Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje
New PDP’ demands fresh convention, opens office in Abuja
Court rejects application to stop Baraje
By Chuks OKocha and Tobi Soniyi
For the Bamanga Tukur-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it's no retreat; and for the Abubakar Kawu Baraje-led faction, it's no surrender.
That appears an apt summary of the outcome of the peace moves initiated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to reconcile differences in the party.
The feud had culminated in the formation of a splinter group which emerged last Saturday during the special convention of the PDP held in Abuja. But the peace talks was deadlocked due to a lack of compromise.
A key point of disagreement at the talks was the demand by the group led by Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje for a fresh convention, a request rejected outright by the Bamanga Tukur-led National Working Committee of the PDP.
And as the battle of wits lingers, a federal high court in Abuja yesterday refused to grant a motion filed ex-parte (without notice) by the PDP's NWC seeking to stop Baraje and others from parading themselves as the executives of the party.
The Obasanjo committee's meeting commenced at the Transcorp Hotel at 10.35am and did not round-off until 2.43pm. The committee comprised elders of the ruling party like former military President Ibrahim Babangida, chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustee (BoT), Chief Anthony Anenih, former national chairmen of the party, Dr. Ahmadu Ali and Senator Barnabas Gemade.
The committee first met with the Tukur-led NWC members including the deputy national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, as well as governors perceived to be sympathetic to President Goodluck Jonathan.
Among these are governors Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State; Liyel Imoke of Cross River State; Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State; Theodore Orji of Abia State; Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State; Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State; Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State and Idris Wada of Kogi State.
Thereafter, the committee met the leaders of the "New PDP", comprising Baraje, Rivers State counterpart, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido. Others at the meeting were Sokoto State Governor Aliyu Wamakko, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, Senator Danjuma Goje, former governor of Osun State Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Dr. Sam Jaja Sam and Senator Bukola Saraki.
THISDAY understood that the peace talks failed because apart from pushing for another convention as a precondition for resolving the crisis, the Baraje group also demanded the resignation of the national chairman of PDP, Bamanga Tukur.
But Tukur's group rejected these demands, insisting that there was no crisis within the party, and citing "personal agenda and greed" as underpinning the decision to walk out of the convention venue and subsequently form a splinter group.
A source from Baraje’s group told THISDAY that their call for a properly constituted national convention is consistent with the dictate of the PDP constitution. It was the inability of the Obasanjo peace committee, the source said, that compelled members of the "New PDP" to move to its new office at No. 4 Oyi Street, Maitama, in Abuja, for inspection and brief meeting. The office complex wearing a coat of green, white and red colour of the PDP will be opened on Monday, September 9.
The Baraje group were said to have called for the sack of Tukur and members of the NWC, as a condition to support Jonathan, in the event he is running for president in 2015.
Speaking with journalists after the meeting, Obasanjo said: “Gentlemen of the press, I thank you for exercising patience. Let me point out that you have seen five of us (referring to himself, Babangida, Anenih, Gemade and Ahmadu Ali) as select elders of the party, we have taken upon ourselves to prevent the worse from happening to our party.
“Two of our members are abroad and could not join us, Alex Ekwueme and Solomon Lar, and of course we carry them along on whatever report we are making, but suffice to say that there is family dispute within the PDP which we want to stem the tide of going to the brinks. And I want to say that we have met with the two side of the family. We have listened to them and of course we are going to put our heads together and go on from there."
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar was absent, as he is said to have travelled to Egypt.
The party's current crisis began last Saturday in a dramatic manner when Vice President Atiku Abubakar, six Northern governors and Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi walked out of the convention venue and later announced the formation of a splinter group from the main PDP.
The Northern state governors involved are those of Niger, Babangida Aliyu; Sokoto, Aliyu Wammako; Jigawa, Sule Lamido; Kano, Rabiu Musa Kwankawanso; Adamawa, Murtala Nyako, and Kwara, Abdulfatai Ahmed.
The formation of the splinter group was hinged on the emergence of a "Unity List" at the special national convention of PDP held in Abuja, which allegedly left out the names of some supporters of the seven governors from contesting.
Commenting on the decision not to grant the ex parte application filed by the PDP's NWC,
Justice Elvis Chukwu said: "Although I am not afraid of granting an ex parte application, however, I owe a duty to maintain a balance. What I want to do is order that the respondents are put on notice."
However, he ruled that the notice should be served through substituted means.
The Tukur led faction of the Peoples Democratic Party had filed the case yesterday against the Baraje-led group at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
In the lawsuit filed on its behalf by Chief Tochukwu Onwubufor, SAN, the Tukur-led faction asked the court to restrain Baraje and other executive members of the breakaway faction from parading themselves as the national executives of the party.
Joined as respondents alongside Baraje were the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Sam Jaja, Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Atiku Abubakar.
The court also ordered that parties should maintain status quo ante bellum pending the determination of the suit.
Justice Chukwu consequently fixed September 12 for the hearing of the motion on notice.
Speaking on the courts' verdict especially with regard to its ruling maintaining the status quo, Tukur said in a statement: "I wish to use this medium to congratulate and appreciate my fellow leaders and all members of our great party for your steadfastness and commitment to the ideals of the founding fathers of the PDP underscored by your unflinching loyalty to the constitution of the party."