The Court of Appeal Division in Port-Harcourt, Rivers state, Thursday, reserved ruling till Friday in the suit brought against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by the immediate past chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus.
The appellate court had earlier fixed Thursday to hear and rule on a motion for an interim order of injunction brought by Secondus against the PDP and others.
Secondus was removed from office by the party’s National Executivuncil(NEC) following protracted crisis arising from alleged high-handedness among other ‘sins’ committed by him.
Dissatisfied with the decision, the PDP chieftain headed to court to challenge his removal, and also prayed the court to stop the party’s national convention slated for Saturday.
Justice Haruna Tsamani, who leads the three-man appeal panel Thursday, however, reserved the ruling till Friday after various submissions by the party.
The embattled chairman who spoke through his counsel, Mr Tayo Oyetubo (SAN), pleaded with the court to preserve his rights as the party’s national chairman by granting his application and restrain PDP from holding the convention scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday) until the substantive suit in the matter is determined.
Secondus further argued that his tenure of office subsists till December 8, 2021, when he is expected to leave office.
He said if his prayers were not granted by the court, the PDP would proceed and hold the convention and elect new set of party leaders, saying this would permanently destroy his right as the party’s national chairman.
Oyetubo submitted: “I urge the court to preserve the case and the right of the national chairman, having regard for the facts of the case, the right of jurisdiction of the court to be able to deliver judgement on the main appeal.
“The decision of the court today, will determine whether or not the party convention will hold, if the application is not granted, my right as national chairman will be permanently destroyed.”
In a counter argument, counsel for the first to fifth respondents, Mr Henry Bello, argued that the application can’t stand the test of law and therefore can’t be granted.
Bello contended that “the prayers made in the application by the plaintiff cannot be granted, in that the whole gamut of the five grounds of the amended notice of appeal has no iota of illusion to the national convention of the sixth respondent application.
“The appeal is a clear deviation from the fact for which this appeal was instituted, which is the national convention. I urge the court to dismiss the application and award cost to the applicant for wasting the time of court.”
Other respondents in the suit backed Bello’s submission, following which the appellate court deferred its ruling till Friday.
PDP in fear
Meanwhile, the court’s decision to put its ruling on hold is causing some disquiet among party stakeholders, who are mostly worried by what could be the outcome of the legal tussle.
Blueprint correspondent observed that the party headquarters was calm, as party faithful were seen around the Wadata Plaza in Abuja ahead of the National Convention.
While governors elected on the party platform and a few other stakeholders appeared undisturbed, same could not be said of some others who are concerned about what tomorrow holds for the party and its future.
Some of the stakeholders who spoke to Blueprint under anonymity are of the view that either way, the party will go through some challenges after the ruling.
“It’s unfortunate we have found ourselves in this mess as a party. Yes, agreed, the only option left for the party was to restore peace ahead of the convention, considering the crisis of confidence that Secondus was enmeshed in.
“I am still of the view that things could be done better rather than putting ourselves in this suspense or anxiety if you like. A middle course would have been better for us. Secondus has a right to ask for his right. So, we will the fate that awaits our Saturday convention,” said a party stakeholder.
Another member said: “Either way, we will certainly face some challenges as a party. If he loses tomorrow, more work still needs be done. If on the other hand, he wins, greater work needs to be done as this would certainly constitute some setbacks of a sort in the party’s strive towards 2023.”
Meanwhile, the Screening Appeal Sub-Committee of the PDP National Convention Thursday submitted its report to the party’s convention committee headed by Adamawa state Governor Ahmadu Fintiri.
Blueprint reports that the committee had earlier disqualified three aspirants from participating in the national convention.
Chairman of the sub-committee and former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu had Tuesday revealed that the committee “received about five appeals, one is in respect of the non-clearance of the deputy national secretary, by the aspirant himself, Hon. Akintan Kareem.”
In related development, the PDP National Convention National Convention Organising Committee (NCOC) meets today (Friday).
A statement by NCOC Secretary and Oyo state Governor Seyi Makinde said: “As part of our preparation for the forthcoming Saturday October 30 to Sunday 31, 2021 Elective National Convention of our great party, the PDP, all members of the NCOC (Main Committee), are hereby invited to a meeting as follows; Date: Friday October 29, 2021. Venue: Legacy House, Shehu Shagari Way, Maitama, Abuja Time: 3:00 pm.”
Also, the committee Chairman, Governor Fintiri, his counterpart and Vice Chairman, Bayelsa state Governor Duoye Diri, have predicted that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) would collapse ahead 2023 polls.
Speaking to newsmen in Abuja Thursday, Fintiri said: “I foresee that by the end of this convention, which will be adjudged as one of the best in the history, of not just the PDP but of any political party ever in this country. It is going to close down most of the political parties especially APC.
“With their own democratic process, we saw what happened, from their wards and states congresses, they were really shattered. Instead of having 36 chairmen, they have about 90 something. So with this convention that we’re going to deliver, I believe with the democratic process and procedures that we have followed diligently, it is going to open floodgate for all of them to come in. And I think this is not just because of the convention, also but because of the situation Nigerians are in today. Everybody is not just looking at PDP to rescue them, but they are looking at PDP as a platform that will bring in a new government in 2023,” Fintiri said.
On his part, Governor Diri said: “We like to call on Nigerians and Nigerians abroad to say there is hope for this country, and this is the right time to rescue the country from the brink of collapse. Nigeria is bleeding and whether you are home or abroad, this is your country, and it is time for you to now join hands with the only main opposition party that has been reorganised, that is looking forward to having a brand new National Executive Committee elected come Saturday, so we call on our brothers and sisters home and abroad to join hands with the main political opposition party to rescue Nigeria.”
PDP govs meet Mimiko
In a related development, the PDP said the party was embarking on rescue mission across Nigeria to save the country from collapse.
Speaking in Ondo town, country home of the immediate past governor of the state, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, Chairman PDP Governors Forum and Sokoto state Governor Aminu Tambuwal, said the party, in continuation of their consultations across the country, was in the state to rub minds with the former governor and his people.
At the meeting which held behind closed door were Tambuwal, Governor Makinde, Governor Nyesom Wike of River state and his Abia counterpart, Okezie Ikpeazu.
Governor Tambuwal, who spoke on behalf of other governors said: “We are here in Ondo town, the resident of our leader, Olusegun Mimiko to re-invite him back to his political family, PDP and as you can see we have governors from Rivers, Oyo and Abia states and we have had a robust engagement with him.
“We are very hopeful that we are going to have positive response from him soonest. Our message is simple; let us come back together to reposition the PDP towards rescuing Nigeria now.”
On the 2023 general elections, Tambuwal posited: “We are to reposition the country for good and betterment of all Nigerians and to ensure that PDP is back to power in 2023.”
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Dr Mimiko said: “This is one of the series of interactions we had over two months ago and they have come at least to convince us why we should come back to join forces with them in PDP.
“We have listened to them; we will go back to our stakeholders’ meeting because it is them, stakeholders that will decide before we will take our decision on it.”
At the meeting were former Deputy Governor of Ondo state, Hon. Agboola Ajayi, his running mate in the last governorship election, Engr. Gboye Adegbenro and other notable personalities in Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) and the PDP.
The rest were former member House of Representatives, Joseph Akinlaja; Speaker, Ondo state House of Assembly, Jumoke Akindele; former governorship aspirant, Banji Okunomo, former Chief Judge of Ondo state, Olasehinde Kumuyi; and Chief of Staff to Mimiko, Kola Ademujimi among others.