Tension within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the forthcoming national convention heightened yesterday as the Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt is set to deliver judgement in an appeal seeking to stop the exercise.
The appellate court will give its verdict on an application for interim injunction filed by the embattled national chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, to stop the national convention scheduled to hold next Saturday.
The situation was further compounded yesterday by a fresh suit seeking to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from monitoring or observing Saturday’s national convention.
The legal action was filed in Abuja by a national chairmanship aspirant, Hon Yari Danjuma, challenging the party’s refusal to make available an expression of interest form for qualified members willing to contest the position in the forthcoming national convention.
LEADERSHIP gathered that most members of the party, including big wigs, are worried that the legal action may thwart the convention.
While Secondus had last week warned against the party proceeding with the convention pending the court ruling on his application, the party leadership had on Sunday raised the alarm over moves to stop the convention through a legal action in Kaduna State.
Secondus had approached the appellate court to challenge his suspension by the party at the ward level which was upheld by a High Court in Rivers State.
But addressing journalists on Monday, the national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, however said the party was yet to be served a court judgement halting the exercise.
However, when the suit filed by Secondus came up before the appellate court yesterday, the interim injunction was not entertained because six other PDP members filed an application for joinder.
However, counsels to the defendants, including those who joined in the suit, led by Henry Bello, opposed moving of the motion for interim injunction by Secondus’ counsel, Tayo Oyetibo.
After listening to the arguments, the three-man panel of the appellate court led by Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani ordered lawyers to the plaintiff to serve the process to the defendants’ lawyers within 24 hours.
The panel also ordered counsel to the respondents to respond within 24 hours and adjourned the matter to tomorrow, October 28, for hearing and possible ruling on the motion.
Meanwhile, a national chairmanship aspirant, Hon Yari Danjuma, who approached a Federal High Court in Abuja, challenged the party’s alleged refusal to make public the expression of interest form for qualified aspirants vying for the national chairman position in the forthcoming national convention.
In the case with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1279/2021, Danjuma is praying the court to hold as illegal, unconstitutional, null and void the deliberate refusal to sell or make available to him the nomination form to enable him contest for the national office.
He said the deliberate failure or refusal of PDP to sell or make available Expression of Interest Form to him or other interested members of the party or aspirants for the position of the national chairman of the party is undemocratic.
In the suit filed by his counsel, Olomotane Egoro on October 22, 2021, the plaintiff is seeking an order of the court stopping INEC from monitoring or observing the said national convention.
The plaintiff also urged the court not to recognise any person purportedly elected or appointed as the national chairman of PDP at the said convention or give effect to any outcome of the gathering in any manner whatsoever.
Joined as defendants in the suit are INEC, PDP and the Inspector General of Police.
Specifically, the plaintiff is asking the court for the following reliefs: “A declaration that the purported or proposed National Convention of the 2nd Defendant (PDP) scheduled to hold on 30th October, 2021 or at any other such date thereafter, which is being organized, conducted and planned without any sell or publication of Expression of Interest Form for or to interested members of the party or aspirants for the position of the National Chairman of the party, is deliberately exclusionary, illegal, unlawful, unfair, unconstitutional and undemocratic.
“A declaration that the Plaintiff being an eligible, financial and qualified members of the 2nd Defendant (PDP) cannot be validly excluded or 2 deliberately prevented from participating, contesting or seeking election for the position of the National Chairman of the 2nd Defendant (PDP) by the refusal to sell or make available Expression of Interest Form for the said election prior to the National Convention of the party scheduled to hold on 30th October, 2021 or at any other such date thereafter.
“An order of court compelling and directing the 1st Defendant, either by itself, staff, agents, officers or howsoever described, NOT to monitor or observe the said National Convention of the 2nd defendant (PDP) scheduled to hold on 30th October, 2021 or at any other such date thereafter, without the participation of the Plaintiff or to recognize any person purportedly elected or appointed as the National Chairman thereat or give effect any outcome of the gathering in any manner whatsoever.
“An order of court compelling and directing the 3rd Defendant to ensure the protection of lives and property and prevention of breakdown of law and order by preventing the purported gathering of the 2nd Defendant (PDP) on the said 30th October, 2021 or at any other such date thereafter under the guise of conduct of the purported National Convention of the party.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 2nd Defendant (PDP) either by itself, officers, members or however described from proceeding with the purported gathering or National Convention scheduled to hold on 30th October, 2021 or at any other such date thereafter,” the plaintiff argued.”
Apparently not deterred by the legal concerns, chairman of the PDP national convention committee and Adamawa State governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, said the party is focused on conducting the convention.
Speaking on Channels TV political programme, Fintiri, said, “We are in top gear for the convention. All the governors are in town to ensure that the convention holds.”
He said despite the squabbles they are experiencing, the party is more interested in holding the convention.
He recalled that the party had charged them to hold the convention within six weeks, and they were doing so well unlike the APC that has not been able to put its house in order.
He said many former PDP members are returning to the party, just as he revealed that the former governor of Ondo State will be received in PDP in two days’ time.
In a related development, the PDP national convention Screening Appeal Sub Committee yesterday commenced hearing on petitions filed against some candidates.
Some of the candidates include national secretary aspirant, Senator Samuel Anyanwu and deputy national chairmanship aspirant, Taofeek Arapaja.
The panel headed by former deputy Senate president, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, will also address petitions against Usman Sani Shehu and Mohammed Usman, who are contesting for the position of national youth leader.
The candidates were earlier cleared by the convention sub screening committee to contest for the National Working Committee (NWC) positions.
The panel will also entertain appeals from a national secretary aspirant, Chief Okey Muo-Aroh, who was disqualified by the screening committee.
Ekweremadu who addressed journalists before the panel went into an executive session said the panel received a total of five petitions.
“But no matter what our feelings are about those appeals and petitions, what we intend to do as a very responsible body is to listen to all those that have written to us and hear from them,” he said.