Respite came the way of Prince Uche Secondus yesterday as a High Court sitting in Kebbi State quashed his suspension and reinstated him as national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
This came less than 48 hours to the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting billed to hold tomorrow.
The interim order of the court in Kebbi has overturned the interim order by a High Court in Rivers on Monday which restrained Secondus from parading himself as national chairman and member of the party.
Justice Okogbule Gbasam of the Degema judicial division, who presided over a vacation court in Port Harcourt, granted the order, pending the determination of the substantive suit, no. PHC/2183/CS/2021.
The suit was filed by Ibeawuchi Ernest Alex, Dennis Nna Amadi, Emmanuel Stephen and Umezirike Onucha against Uche Secondus (1st defendant) and the PDP (2nd defendant).
Following the ruling by the Rivers court, the opposition had appointed Deputy National Chairman (South), Yemi Akinwonmi as acting national chairman.
But Justice Nusirat I Umar, a vacation Judge of the Kebbi State High court, yesterday ordered Secondus to return to his position as PDP national chairman.
Justice Umar granted an interim order filed by three members of the party from the state.
The claimants in the suit which has Secondus and the PDP as the 1st and 2nd respondents are Messers Yahaya Usman, Abubakar Muhammad and Bashar Suleiman.
They prayed the court for an “order of interim injunction staying the purported suspension of the first respondent pending the determination of the substantive motion on notice no: KB/HC/M.170/2021, now pending before this Honourable court.”
They also sought the court order “granting leave to the first respondent (Uche Secondus) to continue exercising a the constitutional powers of the Office of the Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (Second Defendant) as enshrined in both the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended and the People’s Democratic Party Constitution pending the hearing and determination of the applicant’s motion on notice.”
The plaintiffs further prayed the court for an order “granting leave to the 1st respondent (Uche Secondus) to continue exercising all the constitutional powers of the office of Chairman of PDP (second defendant) as enshrined in both 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended and the Peoples Democratic Party’s constitution pending the hearing and final determination of applicant’s motion on notice.”
Recall that a Rivers State High Court sitting in Degema, had on Monday, issued an interim injunction restraining Secondus from parading himself as the national chairman and member of PDP.
Party Insists On October National Convention
Meanwhile, the national leadership of the PDP and governors elected on the party’s platform have upheld the convening of a national convention to elect its national officers in October this year.
The National Working Committee (NWC) the party, which disclosed this after an emergency meeting, also fixed the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party on Saturday.
The NWC also affirmed the deputy national chairman, Elder Yemi Akinwonmi, as acting national chairman of the party.
The NWC meeting which was presided over by the party’s acting chairman, Akinwonmi, was the first after the suspension of Uche Secondus by a Rivers State High Court.
After a stakeholders meeting on August 10, 2021, PDP had asked Secondus-led NWC to convene NEC ahead of plans to hold a national convention in October.
Attempts by Secondus to convince the party leadership to extend the time for the convention due to pending congresses were rejected.
But speaking with journalists after the NWC meeting yesterday, the party’s national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said Saturday’s NEC meeting would among other things appoint the committee to plan the national convention as well as the committee on zoning.
Ologbondiyan said, “I can clearly say on behalf of our party that we have navigated the turbulence that we find ourselves in and today, like all witnesses when you came in, there are no factions in the Peoples Democratic Party. The motion was moved and Elder Yemi Akinwonmi was unanimously approved as the Acting Chairman of our great party.
“It is interesting for Nigerians to know that this is in line with the provisions of our Constitution. Party is fully back on stream, we are sailing smoothly and I will also want to let you know that as you can witness our Board of Trustees meeting is going on as we speak.
“Tomorrow, we are going to have a caucus meeting, and the National Executive Committee will also meet tomorrow in preparation for the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, which will be held on Saturday.”
On the endorsement of Akinwomi as acting chairman, Ologbondiyan said, “It was a unanimous meeting. There are no sides in the PDP. We can have arguments and like I said, we can even have turbulence, but what’s important is how we are able to cruise through the turbulence and have a safe landing on arrival.
“So for us in the Peoples Democratic Party, it’s so far, so good. I want to thank Nigerians for their interest in the activities of the Peoples Democratic Party in the last couple of weeks, and I want them to know that as a party, that we are back as one.”
Meanwhile, former vice president Atiku Abubakar has explained why he has not been attending party meetings.
In a remark at the Board of Trustees (BoT) meeting which also held yesterday, Atiku disclosed that he attended Cambridge University where he obtained Masters in International Relations.
Atiku said, “Many people have wondered where I have been since September last year and it became a matter of rumour mongering and all what not. I want to say that I was away because I went back to school and I finished my lectures in May and read Masters in International Relations from Cambridge University. I want to use this opportunity to thank our former President, Obasanjo, who actually recommended me for that course to that university.”
On his part, the acting chairman, Akinwonmi, said contrary to the insinuations arising from the recent leadership crisis, PDP is not dead.
He said PDP is becoming stronger than before, noting that the squabbles in PDP are not his making or that of his colleagues.
He noted: “It is a situation that called for it but we responded to it quickly. We have closed ranks. We have brought our house to order.
“My brothers and sisters, we have to come together, PDP has come together. I am a man of peace. My leaders tell me that I’m a man of peace and I have nothing to hide. If you ask me to this date I will not stay a day longer than you have me to.
“The NWC has accepted and adopted the end of October as the end of our tenure. We will soon set the machinery of the convention in Motion. We will soon set the ball rolling for us to have our convention and have a new set of officers to come and pilot the affairs of our party.
In his welcome address at the meeting, the BoT chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin, said the advisory body has also approved Akinwonmi as acting national chairman.
He said the meeting was to discuss the current political situation in the country as it affects the PDP, stressing
that “The peaceful resolution of issues around the party will put PDP detractors to shame.”
Ex-minister, Stella Oduah, Dumps PDP For APC
Meanwhile, former minister of Aviation and Senator representing Anambra North senatorial district in the National Assembly, Senator Stella Oduah, has defected from the Oduah dumped Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
With a little over two months to the Anambra State governorship election billed to hold in November, Oduah dumped the party under which she served as minister and key figure in the 2011 presidential campaign of former president Goodluck Jonathan.
Confirming her defection, national director of publicity of the APC, Salisu Dambatta, in a statement titled, ‘Senator Stella Oduah dumps PDP, joins APC’, said Oduah was received at a brief ceremony in Abuja by the leadership of the party.
The statement added that the senator was admitted into the party by the Chairman of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, who is also the Governor of Yobe State, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni.