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PDP CRISIS: HOW INTRIGUES OVER CONVENTION DATE SEALED UCHE SECONDUS’ FATE

Moves by the embattled national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, to reverse some of the agreements reached at the August 10 expanded National Executive Committee meeting of the party, may have provoked the fresh pressure on him to quit immediately, sources said on Saturday.



Another court injunction, the second in one week, stopping Secondus from parading himself as PDP national chairman was slammed on him on Friday by a Cross River State High Court.


DCO Global News
Published on August 29, 2021
By Odoh Dominic Chukwuemeka


The injunction prevented him from presiding at a crucial meeting of the NEC on Saturday where Abuja was chosen as venue for the October 30-31 convention.

The August 10 meeting had resolved, among other issues, that the convention would be held by the end of October, two months earlier than the expiration of the tenure of the Secondus-led national executive committee of the PDP.


It was supposed to be a soft landing for him following an unrelenting campaign by those demanding his immediate resignation.


But soon after the meeting, Secondus began to canvass the view that the October ending convention might not be feasible after all as the PDP must first hold outstanding congresses in nine states and work as a unit for the party’s candidate in the November 9 governorship election in Anambra State.

As of last week, Secondus was reported to be reaching out to the party’s bigwigs for their support to enable the leadership do the needful before the convention and save the party from possible embarrassment.


A party source was quoted as saying: “When the PDP governors and elders met a fortnight ago to arrest the tenure crisis in the party, they did not pay attention to some constitutional and legal technicalities. They were only eager to prevail on key actors to sheathe their swords.

“For a national convention to hold, there must be ward, local government, zonal and state congresses in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). PDP is yet to conduct congresses in over seven states. This is a condition precedent which requires time.

“The implication of excluding the seven states or retaining the old executives is that the National Convention will be illegal. Any member of the party can go to court to invalidate the election of new officers.


“In fact, the PDP Constitution says the party shall be organised at the following levels: Ward, Local Government, Senatorial District, State, Zonal and National.”

Some top members of the PDP were said to have interpreted Secondus’ move as a plot to remain in office until December when his tenure should ordinarily expire.


They accused him of trying to frustrate decisions, especially the choice of October for the convention, collectively taken by the party’s hierarchy.


For the second day running, he was unable to take charge of a meeting of PDP leaders in Abuja yesterday following a fresh injunction restraining him from parading himself as PDP chairman.

The latest injunction was granted by Justice Edem Ita Koofreh of the Cross River State High Court, 48 hours after Secondus himself had obtained an order of his own from a Kebbi State High Court allowing him to return to his position.

It was the Kebbi High Court order that he took to the party’s national secretariat on Friday in the hope that he would be allowed to take charge of a meeting of the PDP national caucus.

After the Friday meeting, the Deputy National Chairman (South), Elder Yemi Akinwonmi, who took charge at the deliberations, handed over to Secondus.

The expectation was that he would be in charge of yesterday’s NEC meeting only for the latest court injunction to be slammed on him.

A party source said on Saturday that PDP stakeholders were miffed by alleged grandstanding by Secondus against a resolution unanimously reached at the August 10 NEC meeting to convene the PDP national convention in October. The embattled chairman had presided at that NEC meeting where the decision was taken.

Days after the August 10 resolution was reached, Secondus had at different media engagements argued that there were state and local government congresses pending in about nine states and that those congresses could not be concluded before the proposed October date for the convention.

He had also argued that the October date was not practicable in view of the November 6 Anambra State governorship election, which he said must be concluded before the national convention could hold.

It was for these reasons that he declared that there was no way the convention would take place earlier than the end of November; a position party stakeholders considered an affront on the collective decision taken by NEC.

Justice Edem Ita Koofreh granted the said order of interim injunction against Secondus, pending the determination of suit HC/240/202 filed by one Enang Kanum Wani. Hearing in the matter was adjourned till September 7, 2021.

A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt had, on Monday, issued an interim order restraining Secondus from parading himself as chairman and from presiding over activities of the party.

However, Secondus had, in a counter move, obtained another court injunction from a Kebbi High Court restoring him to his seat as chairman.

The party, at its National Caucus meeting on Friday, had set up an eight-member committee chaired by a former President of the Senate, Chief David Mark, to interface with parties to the litigation with a view to resolving same out of court. No time frame was announced for conclusion of the committee’s assignment.

Key decisions relating to the proposed convention had been deferred till another NEC meeting scheduled for September 9, the party said.

These decisions include the appointment of convention planning and zoning committees that would oversee logistics for the convention and zoning of elective party offices.

The NEC meeting, which was well attended by stakeholders, was presided over by the Acting National Chairman, Elder Yemi Akinwonmi.

Briefing reporters on Saturday at the end of the NEC meeting, the PDP National Publicity Secretary Kola Ologbondiyan, said the NEC approved the October 30 to 31, 2021 convention date with Abuja as the venue.

He said: “NEC has resolved that Abuja will be the venue of the PDP National Elective Convention slated for October 31, 2021. NEC to meet on the 9th of September to approve the various nominations into the respective national convention committees.”

The PDP NEC urged members to “continue to make personal sacrifices in the overall interest of the party. Urges Nigerians to take a cue from our deliverables in our respective states as a sign of the improvements that our party wishes to deliver when elected in 2023.”

Conflicting orders: Our Judiciary has to be re-calibrated – Doherty
Reacting yesterday to the conflicting court orders, PDP chieftain in Lagos State, Adedeji Doherty, said the judiciary has to be re-calibrated for the nation to reach its full potential democratically.


“It’s time to re-calibrate the judiciary,” Doherty said.


He added: “The blatant pronouncement of court orders secured by the political class continues to embarrass and insult the psyche of most well-meaning Nigerians.”

Doherty described the trend as disappointing, saying such acts would create a very unstable political environment in the nation.

He appealed to the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Attorney-General of the Federation to step into the judiciary to prevent dishing out of court orders indiscriminately.

There should be a directive stopping conflicting orders – Akintola
Also reacting, Senior Advocate of Nigeria Niyi Akintola blamed the situation on the absence of a directive forbidding such by higher authorities.

Prior to this time, he said, there was a directive that stopped judges from granting ex parte injunctions to political parties.

His words: “The former Chief Justice gave a directive forbidding judges of the federal high from granting ex parte injunction against any political party.

“It appears that directive has been jettisoned by the courts. Recently, the courts have been granting ex parte injunctions because the new CJ has not issued a similar directive to forbid the courts from granting ex parte injunction against political parties. When the former CJ was there, no court dared grant ex parte injunction against any political party.”

Courts being politicised – Sowemimo
Another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Seyi Sowemimo, said the problem of courts making conflicting orders was not particularly new.

He said: “They (the parties) are putting whatever they are doing at risk.
At the end of the day, it is only the Court of Appeal that will now determine which is the right decision.


“Until that happens, this issue of conflicting decisions will not be resolved because they are all courts of coordinate jurisdiction.”

As for what the conflicting orders say about the judiciary, Sowemimo said it hinted at politicisation.

“We shouldn’t be having conflicting decisions. This is an indication that maybe there is some politicisation of the judiciary because people are going to particular courts and forums to obtain these orders as if they have some knowledge of what is going to happen; it’s all calculated.

“We can draw our inferences from what is happening without my having to elaborate on what I think is possible,” he said.

Judiciary, legal system sick – Prof Ojukwu
For Prof Ernest Ojukwu, it is a clear case of a judiciary in distress.

“Those State High Courts’ actions of granting injunctions based on ex parte applications in purely domestic affairs of a political party is evidence of a sick judiciary and sick legal profession,” he said.

PDP walking tight rope – Lawyer
A human rights lawyer and pro-democracy activist, Jude Ubani, described the current situation of the PDP as ‘precarious.’

Ubani, who is the Coordinator of the Coalition for Democracy and Good Governance (CDGG), said the opposition party may find it difficult to resolve its current crisis given the growing number of court orders obtained from courts with equal powers.

According to the legal practitioner, all the court orders obtained by the various gladiators within the party are valid, and must be obeyed.

“It is a difficult situation for the PDP. Once issued and not set aside by a superior court, a court order must be obeyed. There are three or more orders now and the party will have to obey all.

“All the orders are valid. The Calabar High Court order must be obeyed. And both Rivers High Court and Kebbi State High Court orders, since they are yet to be set aside by a superior court, must also be obeyed.

“Legally, there are lots of problems with double or multiple orders because every order of the court is valid and must be obeyed. The party or anybody cannot choose the one to obey and the one not to obey.

“They can challenge the order in a superior court, yes. Otherwise, they have to obey.

“As it is now, the party is in a quagmire. First, they must pray that nobody goes to a higher court to challenge the orders, because if that happens, the case will drag on and on until all parties get tired. By then, the party will be in serious distress.

“And if you look at the current situation, you will agree with me that the gladiators are ready to get more orders.

We’ll work out acceptable solution – Party
When contacted, spokesperson of the party, Kola Ologbodiyan, said the situation was not a bad one for the PDP.

“I can assure you that we will come up with an acceptable solution soon. PDP is a family and we have our internal mechanisms for handling situations like this,” he said.

I have not stepped down – Secondus
Prince Uche Secondus Saturday night denied suggestions in some quarters that he had stepped down.

His Special Adviser on Media, Ike Abonyj, said in a statement that Secondus merely stayed away from the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in compliance with the latest court injunction against him.

Abonyi said: “The media office of Prince Uche Secondus wishes to correct the erroneous news circulating that he has stepped down as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“Prince Secondus by his unavoidable absence at the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on Saturday was merely obeying an interim order from Cross River State High Court.

“As a law-abiding citizen who has been an adherent of rule of law as a basis for democracy, he stayed away in respect for the courts.”




By Odoh Dominic Chukwuemeka

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