Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Court to rule on PDP’s debt May 7

A Lagos High Court, Ikeja, has fixed May 7 for ruling in a suit instituted against the Peoples Democratic Party by a lawyer, Mr. Debo Adeleke, over N10.55m professional fees allegedly owed him by the party. Adeleke claimed in the suit which he filed before Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye that he handled the cases for the PDP at the Lagos State Local Government Election Petitions Tribunal between November 2011 and August 2012. He claimed that the party had only paid him N1.45m out of the N12m he charged for the handling of the cases. The claimant, who is the Principal Partner at Maritime, Commercial and Immigration Law Chambers, stated that the N12m fees he charged the party covered the seven cases his law firm handled for the PDP at the election petitions tribunal. The PDP had instituted the petitions against the then ruling Action Congress of Nigeria and the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission as well as the ACN candidates, who were declared winner in the various local government elections held in Lagos State on October 20, 2011. But the PDP, through its counsel, Mr. Chukwuma Nmesirionye, at the hearing of the suit on Tuesday, urged the court to dismiss the suit on the grounds that the lawyer was not instructed to take up the cases by its national leadership. He said, “Article 22(2) of the party’s constitution is clear. It states that the party shall only have legal relationship with any person only through its national officers. “None of the correspondences tendered by the claimant was between the national headquaters of the party and the claimant. “The Lagos State PDP has the power to instruct lawyers. It employs its members of staff and pays them by itself. It has the power to instruct lawyers and it means the Lagos PDP has the financial muscle to pay counsel who represent it. “The claimant is just dragging the national headquarters into the matter as a scapegoat.” But the claimant’s counsel, Mr. Benson Akeredolu, urged the court to reject the defendant’s argument. “PDP is one. The INEC only issued one certificate of incorporation to only one PDP,” he said. Akeredolu claimed that members of the PDP in Lagos State, including the Minister of Defence (State), Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, who was then Nigeria’s Ambassador to Ghana, was among individuals who had paid his client part of the fees. Justice Ipaye had on December 5, 2013, granted an ex parte application permitting Adeleke, who was represented in court by Mr. Akintayo Iwilade, to serve the PDP outside Lagos at its national office in Abuja

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