BY CHIBUZO UKAIBE, Abuja –
The fallout from the national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) continued yesterday as one of the national chairmanship aspirants, Prof Taoheed Adedoja, has gone to court, seeking the nullification of convention.
Adedoja, a former minister of Youth and Sports, who scored zero at the national convention, said his name was excluded from the ballot box. He noted that Oladoja was listed on the ballot box instead of his name, claiming it was responsible for why he scored zero votes at the convention.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, Adedoja expressed disappointment at the manner he was treated by the convention planning committee headed by the Delta State governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, when he lodged a campaign.
The former minister contested the chairmanship position with Prince Uche Secondus, Prof Tunde Adeniran and High Chief Raymond Dokpesi.
Other aspirants including, former deputy national chairman, Chief Bode George; former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; former governorship aspirant of Lagos State, Jimi Agbaje, withdrew from the race barely hours to the contest.
It would be recalled that a fortnight ago, Secondus polled a total of 2000 votes to emerge the new chairman of the party, ahead of Adeniran, Dokpesi and Adedoja who scored 230, 66 and 0 votes respectively.
Adedoja, said declaration of a zero score credited to him by PDP has embarrassed and maligned him “and brought great ridicule” to his political career built over 14 years.
Last week, a national organising secretary (NOS) aspirant, Dr Godwin Duru, and some others, also questioned the conduct of the convention, and gave the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), seven days ultimatum to convene National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting or they would release real result of the convention.
Adedoja is, however, not contesting the result of the convention but the error in his name on the ballot paper.
In a suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1225/2017 filed on his behalf by Messers Rickey Tarfa & CO, the aspirant “pray the court to declare the election of national chairman of PDP held at Eagle Square in Abuja on December 09, 2017, null and void.
“Pray the court to declare as null and void any document submitted by PDP or by the purported occupier of the position of the national chairman to INEC;
“Pray the court for the cancellation of the national chairmanship election held on Saturday December 09, 2017 at Eagle Square Abuja;
“Pray the court to order the conduct of another elective National Convention for the election of national chairman within 30 days of nullification of the elective national convention held on December 09, 2017;
“Restrain INEC from recognising Uche Secondus as National Chairman of PDP on the ground that the election where Uche Secondus was declared national chairman of PDP, where I was unlawfully excluded from the list of the contestants for the position of national chairman of PDP which is a flagrant violation of the Electoral Act, the Constitution of PDP, the guidelines for the conduct of PDP National Convention and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Defendants in the suit are chairman of the National Convention Planning Committee and secretary, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and Dr Ibrahim Umar respectively, the new PDP chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
According to him, his name is Prof Taoheed Adedoja but not “Prof Taoheed Oladoja” as was written in the ballot paper.
He said he drew the attention of Governor Okowa to the error in his name who promised to make the necessary correction but nothing was done.
“I have suffered psychological trauma as a result of the public ridicule the election result has caused me, my family members, friends and associates.
“My lawyers are demanding for appropriate compensation for damages, ridicule, embarrassment and disrepute brought to my name as a result of my wilful exclusion from participating in the election resulting to zero (0) score credited to my name which is now in public domain,” he added.
He further said, “I went to the convention for the position of national chairman of the party with the strong believe that the party needed a chairman with wide experience, acceptability across Nigeria, integrity and a man with fresh and innovative ideas with a view to bringing intellectualism to the governance of the party.
“Towards achieving this, I paid the necessary nomination fee, obtained and returned the national chairmanship nomination form; was invited for screening and subsequently screened with clearance certificate issued to me at a well-attended ceremony at the PDP headquarters in Abuja in Thursday December 07, 2017.
“Surprisingly, on the election day of December 09, 2017, my name was deliberately excluded from the list of national chairmanship contestants posted on the ballot boxes/ cubicles meant for the election of national chairman of the party, thereby, wilfully and unlawfully excluding me from participating in the said election.”
Asked how this could have gone unnoticed by the Convention Planning Committee, Adedoja argued that on the ballot was Taoheed Oladoja, instead of Adedoja, saying on realising the misnomer, he drew Okowa’s attention who in turn promised to rectify the anomaly. The promise, the former minister added, was not kept, culminating in the zero score credited to him during the declaration of results.
He noted that the zero score credited to him has caused him national shame, arguing that the members of his family, political allies and associates are equally embarrassed.
“Having built a political career for 14 years, the declaration of a zero score by PDP credited to me has embarrassed and maligned me and brought great ridicule to my political standing and goodwill nationally and internationally since the announcement of the result. I have suffered psychological trauma as a result of the public ridicule the election result has caused me, my family members, friends and associates,” he added.
According to Adedoja, his lawyer, Ricky Tarfa, on Monday filed a suit before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to amongst others, “Declare the election of national chairman of the PDP held at the Eagle Square, Abuja on December 09, 2017, null and void;
“Declare as null and void any document submitted by PDP or by the purported occupier of the position of the national chairman to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC);
“Restrain INEC from recognising Uche Secondus as the national chairman of the PDP on the ground that the election where (sic) Uche Secondus was declared national chairman of PDP, I was unlawfully excluded from the list of the contestants for the position of the national chairman of PDP, which is a flagrant violation of the Electoral Act, the Constitution of the PDP, the guidelines for the conduct of PDP national convention and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
While praying the court to cancel the national chairmanship election; Adedoja called for the conduct of another elective convention “Within 30 days of nullification of the elective national convention held on December 09, 2017.”