An Appeal Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Friday dismissed the appeal of the suspended National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Uche Secondus seeking to restrain the party from conducting its National Convention, thus paving the way for the congress to commence today in Abuja.
The three-man panel dismissed the appeal which was filed on October 14, 2021, “for lacking in merit.”
With the scare that the convention might be stopped by a court over, 3,600 delegates from all over the country will today converge on the Eagles Square, Abuja, to elect a new National Working Committee for the party.
Secondus had approached the court of appeal to challenge his removal as chairman. He also sought an order of injunction restraining the PDP from holding its National Convention.
The judgement read by Justice Gabriel Kolawale, was unanimously endorsed by the other two members of the panel, who said the suit by Secondus was an afterthought and an abuse of court process.
Kolawole held that the attempt by the applicant to suspend the planned convention “is an act of self-induced urgency to disrupt an ongoing lawful process of the party.”
He wondered why the applicant waited for too long to seek the stoppage of the process which had been communicated to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The judge noted that Secondus did not oppose the notice of the convention written by the acting chairman of the party to INEC, “neither did he oppose INEC’s response to the party.”
The court thus granted the PDP the right to hold its National Convention as scheduled.
The counsel to Secondus, Tayo Oyetibo said the outcome of the main appeal, which is challenging the removal of his client as chairman of the PDP, would determine whether or not they will appeal.
Multiple court orders were issued against Secondus resulting in his removal from office, and the Deputy National Chairman (South), Yemi Akinwonmi, appointed in his stead.
PDP Holds National Convention at Eagle Square
Meanwhile, 3600 delegates will converge on the Eagles Square, Abuja, to elect a new National Working Committee (NWC).
The PDP flag has been hoisted at the Eagle Square, while banners and decorations adorned the area. A podium had also been assembled at the centre of the square.
The party said there would be affirmative vote cast for 21 of the 24 offices of the NWC today.
The party also said the new NWC to be elected would assume office on December 9, 2021.
Addressing a press conference ahead of the convention, the Chairman of the National Convention Committee, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State said 21 of the 24 offices were returned on consensus basis.
According to Governor Fintiri, the offices that would be contested are that of the Deputy National Chairman (South), National Auditor and National Youth Leader.
The former national secretary of the party, Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja will be contesting for the office of the Deputy National Chairman (South).
Speaking on the ruling of the Court of Appeal, Fintiri said the new NWC would assume office when that of the old one ends.
He said: “There will be no vacuum because we’re not truncating anybody’s tenure. We only called for an early convention, but that does not mean because we are having early convention, we are also terminating the tenure of the present NWC. They will still be asked to serve their time until December 9. If anything, it will give them a better chance to interface and have a smooth transition.”
Governor Fintiri said the affirmative votes would be through open secret, explaining that in line with INEC’s guidelines, votes will be cast, adding that the convention had achieved 80 per cent consensus.
Fintiri said 3,600 delegates were expected to cast their votes for the incoming NWC members.
He said, “At the moment, we’re making efforts to reconcile most of our contestants so that we can streamline them and have a better Convention. This will improve our elective chances in 2023.
Tambuwual: NWC to Emerge Through Consensus
The Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum and Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwual, has said he and his colleagues were working towards ensuring that all members of the new NWC of the party emerged via consensus.
He said this after a meeting of the PDP-GF in Abuja, late on Thursday.
Tambuwual said, “We have held the meeting of the PDP governors’ forum. As you can see again, 13/13, all of us attended and the chairman of the convention committee brought us up to speed on how prepared they are for us to hold our convention.
“We are also happy to say that part of what we discussed was the process of getting consensus during the convention.
“So far, we can say with certainty that we have achieved not less than 80 per cent of that process and it is still ongoing
“We are hoping that at the end of the day, we are going to have a hitch-free convention and possibly have all the candidates emerge via consensus.
“Consensus is part of democratic process and we are imbibing that in the interest of our party so that we can continue to have stability that will reposition the party, as we have always said, for the future.”
Wike Hails Ruling
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has lauded the court ruling that restored PDP’s National Convention.
Wike said Secondus’ attempt to scuttle the convention “makes him an enemy of the party.”
He said no individual could derail the party’s mission to rescue Nigeria.
Wike said: “What Secondus is doing is to sabotage the efforts of Nigerians, the efforts of PDP from rescuing this country from the hand of the party that has failed the country. And it is not fair.
“This is a party that has given you everything and there’s nothing wrong in making sacrifice. Even if, assuming though not conceding, that anything was wrong, we expected that having achieved what you have achieved in your life from this party, there is nothing wrong in making sacrifice.”
According to Wike, PDP’s convention starting today would be one of the best that has ever been conducted.
He asserted that Nigerians were expecting PDP to come out of the convention more united.
Wike said the party members, particularly the PDP governors, were more united because they had realised that Nigeria was in difficulty and that only a united PDP could wrest power from the APC.
“Nigeria is in problem and we cannot do it alone. We require everybody to work with us, collectively and see how this country can be rescued.
“Nigerians are not happy with the ruling party, the way Nigerians are being treated. Like I’ve told everybody; there is nothing better than making sacrifice for the interest of the country. PDP is the only platform, and it is today the only opposition party that can rescue Nigeria.”
Wike noted that Tambuwal had recently led a team of his colleague to Ondo State to woo the former Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusengu Mimiko to PDP.
He said the leadership of PDP “is happy that they are going to the convention with nothing less than 95 per cent consensus achieved,” which he said “is first of its kind.”
The governor added that PDP “is ready and prepared to achieve the change that will end the problem of governance in Nigeria.”
Secondus to Challenge Ruling
The suspended National Chairman of the PDP, Secondus yesterday said though, he respects the position of the Appeal Court, he would appeal the ruling.
Secondus said: “Even as the substantive case is still pending at the Court of Appeal, I have instructed my lawyers to study the ruling with a view to appealing it immediately as no abuse of the constitution of our dear party should be allowed to stand.
“The issue is not about Prince Uche Secondus but about the sanctity of our party’s constitution and core democratic principles of justice and rule of law, not only in PDP, but also in our democracy. No impunity must be condoned.
“I will therefore wish to emphasise the fact that I did not take the party to court and would not have done that. As a foundation member of this party, who has served at various levels, I am very much abreast with the workings of the party. I have been a witness to how much harm litigations have done to our party in the past and as a result I have been a strong advocate against settling issues in courts.
“This was why I resisted and rejected entreaties of those who wanted me to go to court to halt these forces when it was obvious that they were determined to disrupt my leadership and truncate my tenure in office with the sole objective of hijacking the party for their selfish ulterior motives.
“To allow this travesty to stand is to reduce our beloved party to a level where anybody can wake up overnight and remove officers against the constitutional process and the National Chairman for that matter.”
Charles Ajunwa in Lagos, Chuks Okocha in Abuja and Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt