By Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor and Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Convention Committee, Nyesom Wike, has said the party’s national convention would go on in Port Harcourt as scheduled despite court orders restraining the party from holding elections into some offices.
This is as the acting National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ali Modu Sheriff said the party would embark on an aggressive reconciliation process after the convention to ensure that every interest group was carried along.
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos had barred the party from conducting elections into the offices of the chairman, secretary and auditor at the convention while another Abuja Court said the party should conduct elections into the offices of the chairman and one other position only.
Wike spoke in Port Harcourt yesterday evening while addressing journalists on the fate of the convention. He was joined in the briefing by Governors Dave Umahi, Okezie Ikpeazu and Udom Emmanuel of Ebonyi, Abia and Akwa Ibom states respectively as well as the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
Wike said, “Just to let you know that the PDP convention, as scheduled by NEC, which is the highest decision-making organ of PDP, will be taking place in Port Harcourt tomorrow (Saturday) which is 21st day of May, 2016. I want to assure you that by the grace of God, the convention will be taking place tomorrow.”
He explained: “You may have heard that there is some court judgment or order; it is important to clarify it here. First of all, you heard that the part of the order that was said to be purportedly given that the chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, was going to court to say that there should not be a convention in respect of the chairman position.
“I want to let you know that the Chairman has clarified himself that it is not correct; that he never went to court. That how will he go to court; that some people had impersonated that he instructed them to go to court. And we believe him. He had written a letter to that effect to say that it was not correct.
“However, a court order is a court order. In consultation with our legal team, we have filed a motion for stay and appeal. Of course, it is clear that when you are challenging the decision of the court, it is clear that when it is a declarative judgment and the party takes steps instantly, by filing a motion for stay of execution and an appeal, that party cannot be held to have disobeyed the court order. Therefore, assuming that there is a court order, we are challenging it, even the court order was fraudulent because the judge may not have known that it was not the PDP chairman that came to court. So, we are not committing a contempt of court.
“Again, you are also aware that there was also another judgment from an Abuja High Court. If we are not law-abiding, the court said there should be election for the position of the chairman and one other position, but the 16 NWC, there should not be election. These are courts of competent and coordinate jurisdiction.
“But again, as law-abiding party, we have taken all necessary steps to making sure that the right thing is done. We have also filed a stay of execution against that judgment and we have also filed an appeal. We did that so that they will not say we are trying to disobey order.”
Wike also dismissed the parallel convention scheduled in Abuja, stating that all the party functionaries were already in Port Harcourt and wondered who would be in Abuja.
His words: “The PDP constitution recognises the NWC, recognises the Governors’ Forum recognises the Board of Trustees and recognises the NEC. And all the bodies have met before the NEC took the decision to say that the convention will take place in Port Harcourt. As I speak to you, every governor of PDP in the 12 states that we control are all in Port Harcourt for this convention. The Deputy Senate President, the Senate Minority Leader, former Governor Akpabio is here, the House of Reps Minority Leader is also in Port Harcourt. The chairman, BoT is in Port Harcourt. Every organ, as far as the party is concerned, is here in Port Harcourt.
“So you ask yourself, when all these organs that represents, as allowed in our constitution, the party, which other organ that will go and hold a parallel convention? So, there is only one convention and it will hold in Port Harcourt.”
He however said the party would welcome back those holding the parallel convention.
“But we believe those who want to hold a parallel convention are our people. We cannot say we will throw them away. They will still be part of us. Obviously, when the positions are taken, some people may be aggrieved, one way or the other. But you don’t because they are aggrieved, you throw them away. PDP is still one and that party will be holding its national convention tomorrow, 21 May, 2016,” he said.
Sheriff spoke with journalists in Port Harcourt yesterday after he was screened at the Rivers State PDP Secretariat.
The Screening Committee had Rivers State Attorney General, Hon Emmanuel Aguma (SAN), as chairman with former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Emeka Ihedioha, as a prominent member of the committee.
The committee also screened the Deputy National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus.
Sheriff said: “PDP is the only party that belongs to Nigerians and owned by Nigerians. There is no sole owner of PDP. PDP is for you, PDP is for our brothers in the village, PDP is for the elder in Abuja, PDP is for everybody. Therefore, we will carry everyone along.
“The way forward is for everybody to be united. Anybody that is aggrieved, we will work towards getting our members on one page.
“We want a united house. In party politics, it is natural that all views must not be the same. As much as possible, we try to unite all views for everyone to have a sense of belonging “.