•Litigations, power tussle threaten convention
From TAIWO AMODU, Abuja
Party faithful were excited at the outcome of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) National Executive Committee (NEC), meeting held last month.
They described the resolutions of that organ of the party, asking about 20 members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) to vacate their positions as a big relief to the quandary thrown up by the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), report on the March 24, 2012 convention.
INEC had frowned at the election of the affected officers through voice votes, as against proper election stipulated in the party’s guidelines for congresses and conventions. The report, however, upheld the emergence of the national chairman, secretary and finance secretary as proper and in line with the party rules.
Before the PDP NEC’s resolution, directing the affected national officers to vacate their positions, three members of the party; Abba Yale, Yahaya Aruwa Sule and Basir Maidugu, had filed a suit on March 27, 2013, before the Abuja High Court, to compel the PDP to dissolve the entire party national leadership and conduct a fresh convention to elect its national officials.
To further stave off the impasse, the party NEC announced the composition of a special national convention committee with Professor Jerry Gana, Akwa Ibom State Governor Godswill Akpabio and Senator Ike Ekweremadu, as chairman, deputy national chairman and secretary, respectively.
But those who saw the resolutions of the NEC as panacea to the crisis of leadership facing the party, as a result of the INEC report had since been stupefied by the crises dodging the activities of the convention committee and the intransigence of aggrieved party members. Oyinlola, Oni: A future in the past Less than 78 hours after the formal inauguration of the Gana Committee, former national secretary of the party, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who was removed from office, following the judgment of Justice Abdul Kafarati, faulting the zonal congress that produced him and Chief Bode Mustapha as secretary and national auditor, wrote Gana, warning the committee not to sell nomination forms for the office of national secretary.
He argued that the office was not vacant, as there was a pending appeal at the Court of Appeal, challenging his removal from office: “I wish to remind you that I was removed by a Federal High Court order, which is being vigorously contested and pursued at the Court of Appeal. I am constrained to point out that I have the constitutional right to go up to the Supreme Court in exercise of my fundamental human rights, which I am fiercely and vigorously protecting.”
“My modest submission is that the National Convention Committee would be trampling on some provisions of not only the PDP Constitution but also the 1999 Constitution (as amended), if it goes ahead to conduct an election into the Office of National Secretary, which is still in contention.
“Validly and meekly put, it would amount to contempt of court for your committee, the PDP or whichsoever body is interested in filling the position of national secretary, to take such a pre-emptive step, which would be disrespectful to the judiciary.” In similar vein, the displaced South-West chairman of the party, Mr. Segun Oni, wrote the Gana Committee, asking it to refrain from conducting a fresh zonal congress in the zone to fill his position and others removed from office as a result of court declarations.
In the letter dated, June 26, 2013, he notified it of a pending appeal, on the declaratory order of the court removing him from office. Gana at a media session penultimate Friday, said: “We are aware of the letter and the party believes in the rule of law. We have referred the matter to our legal department and we shall act according to the law.
“In the meantime, in order not to cheat anybody out of a privilege, those who want to buy forms before the expiration of the date, they should be allowed to do so, because if you don’t allow them and in the end it is ruled that they can purchase forms, then there is no time.
But an office can only be contested for if it is vacant. “If in the end the ruling is very clear that it isn’t vacant, of course, we would refund their money and then those people would see that it wasn’t our fault.
So, we allow them so that they aren’t excluded unfairly.” INEC report: Plaintiff unrelenting While the duo of Oyinlola and Oni are unrelenting in their pursuit of justice and the Gana Committee indulges in sophistry to justify its stance to conduct zonal congress and convention, the plaintiff in the suit, asking for the dissolution of the entire PDP NWC based on the INEC report are also not satisfied with the resolutions of the PDP NEC in the unfolding debacle.
In a fresh suit before Justice Sulaiman Belgore of the Federal Capital Territory in the Abuja Judicial Division, Yale, Sule and Maidugu, are asking the court, to restrain Alhaji Bamanga Tukur from parading himself as the national chairman of the party.
They claimed that the action of NEC in appointing the members of the Interim National Working Committee (NWC) was undemocratic and pre-emptive of the suit instituted against members of the NWC whose election, INEC had said was not acceptable to it. The aggrieved members are seeking for order of the court to set aside the pronouncement of the PDP NEC, leading to the appointment of about 18 acting national officers of the party.
The applicants are also seeking an order of interlocutory injunction, Tukur from performing functions or duties assigned to the PDP NWC, following the resignation and removal of all members of the NWC. While the party faithful waits with bated breath for the court ruling, the power tussle between the Gana Committee and the party national leadership has also aggravated the seeming intractable crises. Daily Sun checks revealed that the declaration of the Tukur-led NWC, asking the convention committee to halt all processes, leading to the South-West zonal congress and the convention had unsettled the Presidency.
Source revealed that with his recent cold attitude towards the convention committee, Tukur might have unwittingly played into the hands of those who are aggrieved with his leadership style and have been trying to convince President Goodluck Jonathan to clean the Augean stable, by removing Tukur from Wadata Plaza.