AFederal High yesterday directed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to serve hearing notices on Governors Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Chibuike Amaechi (Rivers), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano) and Abdulfatai Ahmed (Kwara) by substituted means, in the suit challenging their defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Justice Gabriel Kolawole further ordered that the hearing notices should be pasted on the national secretariat of the APC in Abuja and should be published in two national dailies.
The order was granted by the court at the instance of the PDP, following the absence of the governors or their representatives in court yesterday.
Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), who appeared for the PDP with Damian Dodo (SAN), Omoruyi Omonuwa (SAN) and Dr. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), had informed the court of the absence of the respondents in court, even after hearing notices had been served on them since December 16, 2013.
He, accordingly, applied that fresh hearing notices be issued and posted on the national secretariat of their party and the same be published in two national newspapers.
Justice Kolawole, who granted the application, adjourned the case to February 6 for hearing of the substantive suit.
In the suit, PDP wants the court to sack the five governors, who defected to the APC.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was listed as a defendant alongside the governors in the suit filed on behalf of the PDP by Izinyon.
PDP argued that the governors should be sacked from office on the grounds that, because of their defection, they had forfeited their offices, which, as a result, had reverted to the party.
In the event that the five governors are sacked from office, PDP wants the court to order the deputy governor or speaker of the state House of Assembly of each of the affected states, or any officer next in rank, who is still its member, to assume the office of governor.
PDP was also asking the court for several reliefs, among which was a declaration that by the combined provisions of sections 177 (c), 221 and 222 (c) of the 1999 Constitution, the five governors, who were elected on its platform, could not continue to enjoy the mandate given to it (PDP) by the people/electorate of the concerned states, as they (governors) had defected to another political party.
The court was also urged to make a declaration that in the absence of any division in the PDP, the five governors had vacated or forfeited their seats upon their defection to the APC.
Also, the court was asked to make a declaration that, by the combined provisions of sections 87 of the Electoral Act 2011 (as amended), and sections 177 (c), 221 and 222 (c) of the 1999 Constitution, the offices of the defected governors had reverted to the PDP.
In the same vein, the court was asked to make a declaration that, by the combined provisions of sections 177 (c), 221 and 222 (c) of the 1999 Constitution, upon the defection of the five governors, the mandate should be reverted to the deputy governors or speakers of the state Houses of Assembly of the respective states or any officer next in rank who is still a member of the PDP.