PDP Convention: Tension As Court Put Off Ruling To Today October 29, 2021

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Notice has again shifted to today, as the Court of Appeal delivers ruling on the application seeking to stop the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, convention from holding.

Expectations of the ruling were high, yesterday, only for the appellate court to defer its verdict till today.

The development has raised anxiety in the main opposition party as the judgement will come less than 24 hours to the convention scheduled to begin on October 30 and end the following day.

Despite the temporal setback, Chairman, National Convention Organizing Committee and Governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Fintiri, has predicted imminent implosion of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, as soon as the convention is concluded this weekend.

The Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt once again deferred its ruling on the application filed by the ousted PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, seeking the suspension of the national convention of the party scheduled for Saturday.

The three-man appeal panel led by Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani took this position after counsels for all the parties adopted their written addresses and adumbrated their positions.

Secondus, in the motion, CP/PH/339/2021, is praying the court to give an Interim Order of Injunction suspending the Saturday’s national convention of the party pending the determination of the suit challenging his removal as national chairman of the party.

The court on Tuesday had adjourned to give its decision on the matter, Thursday, had after the legal submissions adjourned till Friday for ruling on the motion.

When the court resumed hearing yesterday, Counsel for the Applicant, Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, notified the court that he amended the processes earlier served on parties to include the names of all the parties, following the order of court.

He told the court that all the 11 respondents had been served the amended processes, adding that the motion that was not taken was re-filed on October 27 and was ready to be taken.

Oyetibo urged the court to have regard to the jurisdiction of the court to be able to give efficacious judgement in the main Appeal and also have regards to the rights of the Applicant.

He noted that Article 35, 1B of the Constitution of PDP, made pursuant to Section 222(C) of the 1999 Constitution, used the words ‘Shall’ and vested in the Nation Chairman the right to preside over the National Convention,’ adding that such is not a privilege.

He said that the intention of the application is not to prohibit the national convention but to suspend it pending when the court would determine the issues of the leadership of the party.

Meanwhile, counsel for the first to fifth respondents, Henry Bello, opposed the application with 24 paragraphs affidavit sworn to by the 1st respondent, urging the court to dismiss the application with cost.

Bello argued that the application seeks the determination of the main Appeal (leadership of the party) without a hearing, adding that the prayers are not attainable.

He said the five grounds of the amended notice of appeal have no iota of allusion to the national convention of the 6th respondent, noting that the application is a radical departure and alien to the main appeal.

Also, S.I Ameh, counsel for the sixth respondents (the PDP), prayed the court to dismiss the application, saying that the balance of convenience is on the court not grant the application because it falls within the set time for the convention as set by the INEC

Similarly, Godwin Obla, SAN, Counsel for the 8th Respondent in a 21-paragraph affidavit, sworn to by Joy Okonkwo, urged the court not to find merit in the application, and should dismiss it.

He noted that Article 35, 1B of the Constitution of PDP, made pursuant to Section 222(C) of the 1999 Constitution, used the words ‘Shall’ and vested in the Nation Chairman the right to preside over the National Convention,’ adding that such is not a privilege.

He said that the intention of the application is not to prohibit the national convention but to suspend it pending when the court would determine the issues of the leadership of the party.

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Meanwhile, counsel for the first to fifth respondents, Henry Bello, opposed the application with 24 paragraphs affidavit sworn to by the 1st respondent, urging the court to dismiss the application with cost.

Bello argued that the application seeks the determination of the main Appeal (leadership of the party) without a hearing, adding that the prayers are not attainable.

He said the five grounds of the amended notice of appeal have no iota of allusion to the national convention of the 6th respondent, noting that the application is a radical departure and alien to the main appeal.

Also, S.I Ameh, counsel for the sixth respondents (the PDP), prayed the court to dismiss the application, saying that the balance of convenience is on the court not grant the application because it falls within the set time for the convention as set by the INEC

Similarly, Godwin Obla, SAN, Counsel for the 8th Respondent in a 21-paragraph affidavit, sworn to by Joy Okonkwo, urged the court not to find merit in the application, and should dismiss it.

In the same manner, Donald Dee-Wigwe, SAN, who stood in for the 9th and 10th respondents, told the court that the office of a national chairman is a political privilege and that the decision of the High Court that sacked Secondus terminated that privilege.

He noted that being a political privilege that it cannot attract a Judicial response, and urged the court to dismiss the application.

Justice Tsammani, after all the presentations, said the court has reserved its decision on the matter to 12 pm on Friday

Meantime, addressing journalists at the party’s National Secretariat in Abuja, Fintiri urged party faithful to expect a hitch-free convention, which in his words, would bring the APC down to its knees.

He 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, most of the political parties will go down, especially the APC.

“With their own democratic process, we saw what happened. Their wards and states congresses were really shattered. Instead of having 36 chairmen, they have about 90 plus.

“So with this convention that we’re going to deliver, I believe with the democratic process and procedures that we have followed diligently, it will open floodgate for all of them to come in.

“And I think this is not just because of the convention but also 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.”

Also speaking, deputy chairman of the committee and Governor of Bayelsa state, Duoye Diri, urged Nigerians to have faith in the PDP, adding that the rot in the past few years will be addressed by a PDP-led government.

“We like to call on Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora 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 reorganized’

“That is looking forward to having a brand new National Executive Committee elected on Saturday.

“So, we call on brothers and sisters, home and abroad, to join hands with the main political opposition party to rescue Nigeria,” he said.

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