Plot by some members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) National Working Committee (NWC) to push for the conduct of the South-West zonal despite the court order, restraining the party from conducting it pending the determination of a suit contesting the venue of the congress, is now causing ripples in the party.
The National Organising Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu (Rtd), National Financial Secretary and Abdullahi Hussein Maibasira are said to be leading the NWC members, who are alleged to be enjoying the backing of the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde.
Sources told our correspondent that Governor Makinde’s men are pushing for the zonal congress to be fixed to hold in Ibadan on April 10, 2021.
However, the National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, who is out of the country, is said to be relying on the legal opinions provided by the National Legal Adviser, Emmanuel Enoidem while the National Secretary, Senator Ibrahim Tsauri, National Youth Leader, Hon Udeh Okoye and others are said to be backing the Chairman’s insistence on strict respect for the rule of law.
On January 19, 2021, a Federal High Court, Lagos, judge, C J. Aneke had ruled that status quo ante Bellum be maintained pending the determination of the originating summons in the suit number FHC/L/CS/63/2021.
The suit was filed by some members of the South-West Zonal Caretaker Committee, seeking an order of the court directing that the zonal congress be held in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Apart from the PDP, other defendants in the suit are the National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus and National Legal Adviser, Emmanuel Enoidem.
Hearing of the suit, which was earlier fixed for March 29, 2021, was rescheduled for April 16, 2021.
A letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) dated March 31, 2021, indicated that the party had scheduled its North-west, South-west and North-central zonal congresses for April 10, 2020.
The letter was signed by the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, and the National Secretary, Senator Umaru Ibrahim Tsauri.
According to the letter with reference number: PDP/DOM/GF.2/VOL.IA/21-031 and addressed to the chairman of INEC, the South-west zonal congress will hold in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, while the congresses for North-west and North-central will hold in Kaduna and Makurdi, respectively.
A party source disclosed that an NWC meeting was held on Tuesday, where the issue of the outstanding congresses was discussed. However, the meeting, which was presided over by the Deputy National Chairman (North) Senator Suleiman Nazif, did not conclude on the congresses as it was opined that members of the NWC should consult their constituencies.
A party source who confirmed the development to our reporter said when the National Legal Adviser heard of the plot to conduct the congress, he issued a legal opinion, warning on the consequences of disobeying a court order.
The National Legal gave his opinion, warning on the consequences of disobeying a subsisting court order. He said it will be contemptuous for the party to take any action against the order of the court, stressing further that PDP as a party that is championing respect for the rule of law, must not be seen as disobeying the order of the court.
Another source disclosed that in the course of the meeting today, the National Legal Adviser was called to give his legal opinion and he again warned of the consequences of going ahead with the congress in disobedience to the order of the court.
“However, the National Organising Secretary still insisted that the congress must hold, saying that five out of the 12 members of the South-West Zonal Caretaker Committee who filed the suit already withdrawn from it.
“But the National Legal Adviser said it was not the business of the NWC to be rationalizing a matter that is pending before the court on which an order had been granted and it is still subsisting. He pointed out that whether or not, any of those who filed the suit pulls out, it will still not affect the potency of the court order, since other parties did not withdraw.
“The National Legal Adviser went on to state that should the party go ahead to disobey the order of the court, it should be on record that his hands are clean.”
However, when the National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus who is abroad, was called by one of the NWC members who had earlier excused himself from the meeting, he queried what the interest of the NWC was in rushing to conduct the congress in disobedience to order of the court.
He, therefore, overruled the decision to go ahead with the congress, noting that himself, the National Secretary and National Legal Adviser who are defendants in the suit will be the ones to face contempt charge should the order be disobeyed.
Source: Vanguard News