Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola
By Chuks Okocha and Yinka Kolawole
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Tuesday dismissed speculations that there was some ulterior motive in its replacement of its embattled National Secretary, Brig. Gen. Olagunsoye Oyinlola (rtd).
The party’s National Working Committee (NWC) in a statement in Abuja, said Oyinlola’s replacement by his deputy, Mr. Onwe S. Onwe, albeit in an acting capacity, was not indicative of a rift between Oyinlola, who was last Friday ordered to be removed from the post by a Federal High Court, and the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
It added that Oyinlola, who is before the Court of Appeal to challenge his ouster, would return to his position if the appellate court upturns the decision of the lower court.
THISDAY also obtained a copy of the legal advice from the party’s legal consultant, Chief Joe Gadzama (SAN), on which Tukur based his decision to name Onwe acting secretary.
However, governors elected on the party’s platform are expected to meet Wednesday in Abuja to deliberate on the ouster of the national secretary, whom they used their influence to get into the position.
The relationship between Tukur and Oyinlola has been less than cordial since the present NWC members assumed office in March 2012.
The frosty relationship between the duo took a turn for the worse recently following the power play in the Adamawa State chapter of the party, with both of them pitching their tents in different camps.
However, reacting to media reports that Tukur’s replacement of Oyinlola was part of his agenda to settle a score, the party said Onwe’s appointment was premised on the nullification of Oyinlola’s election as the national secretary.
According to NWC, “The appointment of Onwe as acting secretary followed the decision of the Federal High Court, Abuja, to annul the election of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola as the national secretary of the party. The executive organ of the party was only obeying a court directive to avoid a vacuum.”
It disputed reports that the change was borne out Tukur’s personal desire to settle a score with Oyinlola.
“The National Working Committee wants to make it very clear that what happened was nothing more than the obedience of a court judgement, and the consequential application of the relevant sections of the party’s constitution under the circumstances.
“Given the judgement of the Federal High Court, a situation was created for invocation of Section 45 and the National Working Committee accordingly did what the constitution expects it to do under such circumstances.
“The matter had absolutely nothing to do with any imagined rift between the national chairman and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we want to say unequivocally that there is no personal rift between Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, as the national chairman of the party and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola to warrant the sensational headlines that have been published in newspapers on the issue.
“In any event, reports have indicated that Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola has appealed against the court judgement and the NWC wants to state that as soon as the appeal is decided, the party will, in the same way as it did in the case of the Federal High Court ruling, obey the appellate decision.
“We want to make it very clear that our great party is a law-abiding party, which bases its conduct and activities on internal democracy and the rule of law.
“In any event, whenever a court of competent jurisdiction decides on any matter involving the party, the PDP will have no hesitation in obeying and implementing the judgement,” the NWC said in the statement.
The NWC statement notwithstanding, THISDAY Tuesday obtained a copy of the legal advice given by Gadzama to the emergency meeting of the NWC on Monday that arrived at the decision to replace Oynilola with Onwe. A copy was also said to have been given to President Goodluck Jonathan.
The legal counsel stated that the judgment of a court on the Oyinlola case was valid and subsisting until it was set aside, on appeal by a court.
It read in part: “The judgment of the trial court in this instance could not be said to be a nullity until after it had been declared so by the Court of Appeal.
“The judgment is binding on all the parties to it, most especially the defendants who are bound to comply with same.
“Essentially, the judgment is declaratory and a declaratory judgment cannot be stayed in the sense that if there is an appeal against the judgment or an application to set it aside, such an appeal or an application cannot be a reason to stay the effects of the judgment.
“Consequent upon the above circumstances, it is our considered legal opinion that: (a) The first defendant (Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola) shall vacate his office as the national secretary of the PDP forthwith in compliance with the order of court.
“(b) The second defendant (the PDP) shall ensure that the defendant vacates his office as the national secretary of the PDP forthwith and should not do anything that runs contrary to the order of the honourable court removing him as the national secretary of the PDP or parades himself as such.
“(c) The National Working Committee of the PDP shall ensure, in accordance with the order of the honourable court, that a valid congress of the South-west zone chapter of the PDP is constituted within 21 days from the 11th day of January, 2013, to replace the first defendant with another candidate.
“(d) Meanwhile, by the provisions of Chapter VI Section 45 (3) of the Constitution of the PDP 2012 (as amended) the Deputy National Secretary of the PDP shall act as the national secretary until the post is filled.
“The most honourable thing to do is for the first defendant (Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola) to comply with the order of the court to save himself from any embarrassment which may otherwise ensue.”
But in response to the latest developments in the PDP, its governors will meet today to discuss the events that have transpired since their meeting last week when they endorsed the outcome of the NWC that had reversed the removal of the Adamawa State Executive Committee.
The meeting is expected to commence after the meeting of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), where the governors are expected to discuss the proposed constitutional amendment and the deductions from the Excess Crude Account.
It was further gathered that political associates of former President Olusegun Obasanjo would use the opportunity of a reception for Obasanjo to meet and strategise on how to respond to Oyinlola’s removal and how to make a former National Chairman of the party, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, the chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT).
In a related development, a political pressure group in Osun State under the aegis of De-Raufus, has lauded the removal of Oyinlola as the national secretary of the PDP.
The group also welcomed Tukur’s decision appointing Onwe as acting national secretary of the party.
A statement by the group’s Chairman, Alhaji Musliudeen Oladimeji, yesterday stated that any house built on falsehood would not stand.
Oladimeji stressed that Oyinlola as a trained lawyer should be able to differentiate between illegality and legitimacy and know that his adoption by the South-west zonal chapter of the party that brought him to office was faulty and it could not stand the test of time since the South-west executive, led by Mr. Segun Oni, had been sacked too.