The national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party slated for October 30 and 31, 2021 may not go as planned as its court-suspended National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, has threatened to halt the convention.
It was learnt that attempts by party leaders, especially the Senator David Mark-led eight-member committee, to find an amicable solution to the feud between Secondus and the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, have so far failed.
A fresh dimension to the dispute surfaced on Friday with the lawyers to Secondus insisting that the appeal filed by their client against his suspension was still pending in court.
In the letter written by the legal representatives of Secondus, the suspended chairman warned the PDP against going ahead with the National Convention slated for next week Saturday and Sunday.
The letter dated October 21, 2021, written by the legal chambers of Tayo Oyetibo, Solicitors and Barristers, reminded the party about the pending appeal with suit number: CA/PH1341/2021, and an application before the Federal High Court seeking to restrain the party from conducting its national convention.
Oyetibo threatened to mount a legal challenge to the outcome of the convention should the party go ahead before the determination of the appeal.
The letter was addressed to the PDP acting National Chairman, Yemi Akinwonmi; the Chairman, PDP National Convention Committee, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State; PDP National Organising Secretary, Austin Akobund; PDP National Legal Adviser, Emmanuel Enoidem; and the party’s National Secretary, Senator Ibrahim Tsauri. The letters were routed though the recipients’ lawyers, Chief E.O. Oddey Odey and Odey Solicitors.
The letter from Oyetibo read in part, “This letter is intended to draw your attention to the position of the law of Nigeria on this subject as encapsulated in the judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the celebrated case of Governor of Lagos of Lagos State vs. Chief Emeka Ojukwu (1986) I NVVLR (Part 1 8) 621 @ 637, in which the court reviewed various decisions on the point, and approved the following principles as the correct position of the law, that is:
“The rule is well-settled that where a suit is brought to enjoin certain activities of which the defendant has notice, the hands of the defendant are effectually tied pending the hearing and determination even though no restraining order or preliminary injunction be issued.
“The conclusion to be drawn from all the cases is that after a defendant has been notified of the pendency of a suit seeking an injunction against him even though a temporary injunction be not granted, he acts at his own peril and subject to the power of the court to restore the status wholly irrespective of the merits as they may be ultimately decided.”
In his appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division, Secondus is seeking, among others, an order of injunction restraining the PDP, whether by itself, its officers, servants, agents and or representatives, from holding or conducting its national convention pending the hearing and final determination of his appeal.
His lawyers said the application had since been served on the party and other respondents in the appeal.
He, however, noted that “notwithstanding the service of the application for injunction, it has come to the notice of our client that the PDP and its officers continue to prepare to hold the national convention on 30 and 31.”
When contacted, the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Diran Odeyemi, said, “I believe the PDP is a law-abiding party and that it would do the needful. The fact remains that with recent happenings in the party, many members are unhappy but as loyal party members, we look to the party to lead the way.”
Oladipo’s disqualification may unite Osun PDP factions against Arapaja
Meanwhile, the disqualification of a former National Secretary of the party, Prof. Wale Oladipo, from the race for the Deputy National Chairman of the party may have forced the two opposing camps in the Osun PDP to settle for a former governor of the state, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, as candidate for the post.
Support for Oyinlola and Oladipo had divided Osun PDP between the Senator Ademola Adeleke/Sunday Bisi faction and Akin Ogunbiyi/Soji Adagunodo group.
While the camp of Adeleke, who was the 2018 governorship candidate of the party in the state, openly adopted Oladipo as its sole candidate for the post of Deputy National Chairman, the group enjoying the backing of Ogunbiyi had been campaigning for Oyinlola.
But following the Thursday disqualification of Oladipo, some stakeholders in the Osun PDP that spoke on the matter, accused the South-West leader of the PDP, Governor Seyi Makinde, of masterminding Oladipo’s disqualification to pave the way for the current PDP South-West National Vice Chairman of the party, Taofiq Arapaja, who joined the race late.
A reliable party source, who preferred not to be named, explained that Makinde withdrew his support for Oyinlola, who he initially endorsed for the post upon realising that “whoever is elected Deputy National Chairman, may end up being the national chairman, in case PDP gives its 2023 presidential ticket to a northerner.”
According to the source, the Makinde’s camp was of the opinion that if Oyinlola, a former governor, becomes the party’s national chairman, in case PDP’s 2023 presidential candidate comes from the North, that may affect the influence of the Oyo State governor in the region.
The source said, “Oladipo was disqualified for actions he took while he was National Secretary, especially when the party was dragged to court.
“That reason (the disqualification) was the handiwork of Makinde. His camp felt Oladipo should be taken out.
“Makinde’s camp suddenly developed cold feet towards Oyinlola because of 2023. It was of the opinion that if PDP presidential ticket is given to the North, whoever is chairman from the North must resign.
“If that should happen, and Oyinlola has been elected Deputy National Chairman, he will automatically step in and become the party’s national chairman. It is common knowledge that Oyinlola is very close to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and military dictator, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd.).
“Makinde’s camp feels Oyinlola may be too powerful for any governor to control as the PDP National Chairman. After considering that, Arapaja, becomes a very good option for the Oyo governor’s camp.
“No matter what Arapaja becomes at the national level, the Makinde camp believes it can still manage him. Stakeholders in Osun State may be shifting their support to Oyinlola to check Makinde’s camp. Many of them believe the division in the state PDP is making it easy for external forces to deprive it of privileges.”
But when contacted, Oladele Oluwabamiji, the Director of Research and Publicity of the Senator Adeleke faction of the PDP in the state, said Oyinlola did not formally inform the party he was contesting the post of Deputy National Chairman.
Oluwabamiji said, “We are going to wait for the outcome of the party’s Appeal Committee that will hear the case against the disqualification of Oladipo on Saturday (today) before taking any decision.”
Meanwhile, a faction of the PDP loyal to Soji Adagunodo in Osun State has said it hoped that Arapaja would step down for Oyinlola.
The spokesman for the group, Abiodun Adegoke, said Oladipo could not be said to be out of the race since the Appeal Committee had yet to take a decision on his appeal.
He, however, said the party would expect Arapaja to withdraw from the race and allow Osun State to fill a position micro-zoned to it since Oyo has taken the post of National Vice Chairman.
“No one can say Oladipo is out of the race yet. The Appeal Committee will have to decide that before anyone can say he is out of the race. But we expect that Arapaja will withdraw from the race to allow Osun State fill the post which was micro-zoned to it,” Adegoke said.
However, Oladipo, in a statement on Friday, said even though he has a right to appeal, he had resolved not to push his case further.
Oladipo said he would rather concentrate his energy on ensuring that the PDP wins the next governorship election in Osun State next year.
He said, “Having the conviction that there will always be a tomorrow, l am not going to bother myself to push this case further beyond this point because l believe in our own cause, which is, first and foremost, to deliver Osun State to the PDP and from there to move on as a committed party member.
“Though I have a right of appeal, and to seek redress within the confines of the internal mechanism of the party’s constitution, l am not a desperate politician to go that route since the ‘powers-that-be today’ have apparently decided on what to achieve at the convention. Therefore, l have no other choice but to move on to concentrate on delivering Osun State to the PDP in 2022.”
Oladipo said ‘interested powers’ that were afraid of his electoral value at the National Convention caused a frivolous petition to be written and submitted concerning his activities during the crisis that engulfed the party over five years ago.
He further said, “The content of the hatchet job remains hazy but the little we know purportedly hinges on the past crisis that our party passed through then.
“But it is interesting to note that throughout the period, l started with dignity and kept my mind fixated on how the party will progress therefrom. When the final decision was made, l abided by it and stayed by the party which consequently made us deliver on our mandate.”