- Edo gov holds meetings with PDP colleagues, Secondus
- Giadom contends APC leadership with Ajimobi
- I’m yet to decide my next moves, says Oshiomhole
- Uzodinma heads Edo guber primary committee
Nseobong Okon-Ekong in Lagos, Chuks Okocha, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja, Adibe Emenyonu in Benin and Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, was busy wednesday putting finishing touches to his plans to pursue his re-election bid on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Obaseki, who resigned his membership from the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday, hours before the Court of Appeal affirmed the suspension of the party’s National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, held a series of meetings with his PDP colleagues and the party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus.
APC leaders were also busy trying to subdue the raging crisis in the party in the aftermath of Oshiomhole’s suspension as the party’s Deputy National Secretary, Chief Victor Giadom, laid claims to the leadership of the party.
Giadom, who was later suspended, broke ranks with some members of the National Working Committee (NWC), who had late Tuesday picked one of Oshiomhole’s zonal deputies, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, to hold the fort for the embattled chairman.
Giadom anchored his claim to the party’s chairmanship on a March order of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court.
THISDAY gathered that the PDP governors held a virtual conference with their Edo State counterpart ahead of his joining the party any time from now.
THISDAY gathered that the virtual conference Obaseki had with his PDP colleagues was chaired by the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, who is also the Governor of Sokoto State, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal.
According to sources privy to the meeting, the PDP governors assured Obaseki of soft landing and also addressed his fears.
It was also learnt that the PDP NWC met outside the national secretariat of the party in Abuja to discuss some of the issues regarding waivers to the Edo State governor and how to smoothen his admittance into the party.
The source said the PDP NWC might inform the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of a new date for its governorship primary, which must fall within the June 27 deadline approved by the commission for political parties to choose their governorship candidates.
The source said: “According to plans, a waiver will form part of the agenda of the NWC meeting and it is when all these are concluded that Obaseki will join the party.”
But before he met with the governors of the main opposition party, there were moves to make Obaseki to reverse his resignation of his membership of the APC.
It was learnt that some party leaders pressured him to reconsider his decision in view of the fact that Oshiomhole who allegedly masterminded his disqualification from the race for the APC governorship ticket was out of the way.
The moves to prevail on Obaseki to reverse his resignation from APC, it was gathered, was part of the reason Giadom announced himself as acting national chairman and cancelled the APC screening that disqualified Obaseki from contesting the APC governorship primary.
THISDAY gathered that this was part of the reasons the Edo governor and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, were yet to disclose their new party.
But the National Vice Chairman of the PDP in the South-south, Mr. Emma Ogidi, in his interview with ARISE NEWS Channel, a sister broadcast arm of THISDAY yesterday, still expressed optimism that Obaseki would join the party within the week.
He was, however, not categorical that Obaseki will be given an automatic ticket as he kept saying that due process would be followed because PDP is a party of due process.
As at press time, Obaseki was still meeting with the Secondus in Abuja.
Also in attendance at the meeting, which was holding at the Abuja residence of the Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, were Tambuwal and other top leaders of the party.
APC NWC Suspends Giadom as Battle for APC Leadership Rages
Giadom, who had earlier arrived the national secretariat of the APC at about 10 a.m, while addressing the press, had declared himself the authentic acting national chairman of the party based on a subsisting court order.
He challenged Tuesday’s decision by the NWC that made Ajimobi the acting national chairman of the party.
In deciding on Ajimobi, the party had said: “Guided by advice from the party’s legal department in line with the provisions of Section 14.2. (iii) of the party’s constitution, the Deputy National Chairman (South), Sen. Abiola Ajimobi, will serve as the party’s acting national chairman.”
Following Giadom’s declaration, the NWC of the party summoned another emergency meeting, attended by 16 members, and suspended Giadom from the party.
It directed the South-south zone of the party to nominate another party member to fill his position.
Addressing a press conference yesterday, the National Vice Chairman (South-south), Mr. Hillard Etta, explained that the NWC reaffirmed Ajimobi as the acting national chairman of the party.
He added that in dealing with the appeal court order suspending Oshiomhole, the NWC resorted strictly to the constitution of the APC in filling the leadership vacuum.
Etta stated: “In the event of the inability of an officer of the party, the constitution is invested with the process of replacement and so according to the constitution of the party, the NWC re-affairms the deputy national chairman (South) as the acting national chairman of the party. And in his absence as also enshrined in our constitution, the National Vice chairman of the party from the zone of which the national chairman hails from and in this case, the South-south, acts on behalf of Ajimobi.”
Etta’s position confirmed THISDAY exclusive report yesterday that with Ajimobi being unable to discharge the function of his office due to his being hospitalised, Etta will be mandated to run the party in the interim.
The NWC also constituted a seven-man election panel for the Edo primary election, scheduled for June 22, while the election appeal is scheduled for June 24.
Etta noted that the primary election committee is headed by Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma as chairman; Senator Ajibola Bashiru as the secretary while Alhaji Abdullahi Abas, Hon. Ibrahim Sabo, Hon. Ocho Obioma, Hajia Amina Muhammed and Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye are members.
He added that the primary election appeal is headed by Prof. Mustapha Bello as chairman, Dr. Kayode Ajulo as secretary while Hon. Umar Ahmed, Nasiru Ibrahim Junju and Hon. Rasaq Bamu are members.
The NWC said it had also complied with a high court ruling, which declared Hon. Igo Aguma as the party’s acting chairman in Rivers State, pending when new congresses would be held to elect party executive members at the ward, local government and state levels.
Etta stated: “It is also noted that Chief Victor Giadom had resigned to contest as deputy governor of the party in the last election and that the party has no recollection that the South-south zone of the party had represented him. Therefore, the NWC has now asked the South-south of the party to present a member of the party to fill this position.”
He added that 16 members of the NWC attended the meeting, adding that while 13 attended physically, three others joined the meeting online.
Those that attended the meeting were: the National Secretary, Mr. Waziri Bulama, Etta, Hon. Emma Eneukwu; National Vice Chairman, South-west, Pastor Bankole Oluwajana; National Vice Chairman, North-west, Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir; National Vice Chairman, North-central, Alhaji Suleiman Umar Wambai; National Organising Secretary, Mr. Emma Ibediro and the National Legal Adviser, Babatunde Ogala.
Others were: the National Welfare Secretary, Alhaji Ibrahim Kabir Masari; National Treasurer, Alhaji Adamu Fanda; National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu; National Financial Secretary, Alhaji Tajudeen Bello; National Auditor, Paul Chukwuma; National Women Leader, Hajia Salamatu Baiwa Umar-Eluma; National Youth Leader, Alhaji Sadiq Abubakar and National Disabled Leader, Misbahu Lawan Didi.
Earlier, while addressing a press conference at the party’s national secretariat on Wednesday, Giadom had said he staked his claim to the party’s chairmanship based on a subsisting order of FCT High Court of March 16, 2020, by Justice S.U. Bature.
He noted that the order could not be immediately effected at that time because of the temporary reprieve Oshiomhole got from the Court of Appeal on the same date.
Giadom said: “However, having removed the temporary reprieve yesterday by the Court of Appeal and considering the fact that we cannot allow for a vaacum, I most humbly inform you that I have assumed office as acting national chairman of our great party in compliance with the order of the court.
“I therefore, most humbly, solicit the support of the entire leadership and members of our great party in achieving this very important responsibility. I want to assure all party members that the All Progressives Congress will obey court orders/judgments as to bring sanity to our great party. Time for selective compliance with court orders and judgments is over.
“As your acting national chairman and presiding officer in the NWC, we therefore cancel the decision of the screening and appeal committees of the former chairman of the party on the Edo primary. This is in strict compliance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that forbids anyone who is interested in a cause to be a judge in that same cause. ”
He said it was a brazen rape on the rule of law and the constitution of Nigeria for Oshiomhole to preside and select committees in respect to the governorship primary in Edo State being a key player in the crisis in that state.
He added that whatever role the former chairman was given to play in that process by the APC Constitution, it cannot override the provisions of the constitution of Nigeria, which governs all everyone.
“We, therefore, ask all aspirants in the governorship primary to report for fresh screening between today and tomorrow. I call on all aspirants to remain in the All Progressives Congress as we guarantee fairness and justice to all concerned. The schedule and time for each aspirant shall be communicated,” he added.
Giadom also directed the Deputy Organising Secretary of the party, Hon. Muhammad Ibrahim, to immediately resume office as the acting national organising secretary in compliance with the judgment of the Federal High Court in suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/733/2018, which removed the former National Organising Secretary, Mr Emmanuel Ibediro, since 24th of September 2018, saying this is to ensure strict compliance with the rule of law.
I’m Yet to Decide My Moves, Says Oshiomhole
Oshiomhole has said that he has accepted the court’s verdict, which upheld his suspension, even though he is yet to determine his next moves.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today yesterday, Oshiomhole noted that his next line of action will be determined by his lawyers based on legal advice.
“We thank their lordships, they have given their judgment. In our democracy, the court is an independent arm of government.
“When they hand that judgment, it is not for you to pick whether you will obey or not. I accept their judgment in good fate.
“My lawyers will advise having studied the judgment, what the next line of action will be. So at this point, I will just thank their Lordships for their judgment and look forward to my lawyers on what should be the next line if there should be another next line of action,” he said.
When asked if he would instruct his lawyers to appeal the ruling of the appellate court on his suspension, the embattled APC chief neither confirmed nor opposed the question.
Rather, he stated that his next move would not be discussed on national television.
He said: “What I do next would be based on my legal advice and my lawyers will act on that. I don’t think I need to communicate that through the television. It’s a relationship between a lawyer and his client. And I think we should leave it at that.”
Reacting to the decision of the party’s NWC to disqualify Obaseki from participating in the APC primary election on June 22, Oshiomhole said there was no going back on the decision.
While pleading for peace among members, he advised Giadom against parading himself as the national chairman of the party.
APC to Convene NEC Meeting Soon
Ajimobi yesterday said the NEC meeting of the party would soon be convened to resolve all contentious issues.
Ajimobi, in a statement by his Special Adviser, Communication and Strategy, Bolaji Tunji, said: “A meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC), would be called soon to resolve all contentious issues.
“We should therefore let peace continue to reign until we call the NEC meeting and take a position on the way forward.”
However, lawyer to a contestant for the position of Deputy National Chairman (South) of APC, Mr Michael Akinleye, has warned the NWC of the party not to recognise Ajimobi as acting national chairman of the party because Ajimobi is not qualified to be so named.
The law firm of Octodas Attorneys, in a letter sent to the NWC of the APC yesterday, warned the committee that a suit asking that the court orders the APC to fill the vacant position of deputy national chairman (South) in accordance with the party’s constitution has not yet been decided.
The suit, filed at the Federal High Court, Ado Ekiti, on February 12, 2020, is praying among other reliefs that the office should be filled in accordance with Article 20 of the APC Constitution 2014 (As Amended).
The lawyers said until the case is determined, Ajimobi’s purported appointment as deputy national chairman (South), and now as acting national chairman of the party is a nullity.
Giadom Lacks Power to Cancel APC Screening, Says Spokesman
However, the APC spokesman has punctured the claim by Giadom that he has the power to upturn the outcome of the party’s recent governorship selection process in Edo State.
Speaking on the phone with THISDAY, Issa-Onilu said Giadom lacked the power to take the kind of decision ascribed to him.
He said: “A substantive chairman of the party can’t make that pronouncement, let alone someone who claims to be in acting capacity.
“No individual has the power to do that. It is only the NWC of the party that has such powers. However, in this instance, the NWC lacks the power to reverse what has already been done. If that were to happen, it means that people who went through the process will go to court to seek redress. It is like having a properly constituted examination body that sets an examination for candidates, scores them and releases results only to go back to disclaim the scores. Of course, the students have a right to challenge that decision.”
No Cause for Alarm, Says Ize-Iyamu
One of the APC governorship aspirants in Edo State, Mr. Osagie Ize-Iyamu, yesterday, stated that Oshiomhole’s suspension would not diminish his chances, adding that “there is no cause for alarm.”
Ize-Iyamu, in a WhatsApp message, noted that his chances remain bright as his campaign is recording daily endorsements by influential leaders and members of APC and beyond.
According to him, “Even today, Wednesday, June 17, one of the three aspirants cleared by the Screening Committee to participate, Hon. Osaro Obaze, stepped down his ambition and declared support for me. All his followers will now be joining forces with ours across the state.
“Earlier in the week, the House of Representatives Caucus of Edo APC also endorsed my aspiration as well as candidacy and pledged support. We are proud and honoured to say that we are getting a lot of support everywhere. We look forward to the primary.”
On Oshiomhole’s suspension, Ize-Iyamu said: “In my view, there is no cause for alarm. It is a legal issue and the party is already making moves to address it. The court of appeal made the decision based on a purported suspension of the national chairman at his ward in Edo State. But the leadership of the ward has already clarified to all that it never made the decision. They have a signed document passing a vote of confidence on the national chairman. I strongly believe that when all of these are presented to the court, the case will eventually be ruled in favour of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole”.