PDP Shifts Edo Governorship Primary for Obaseki

0
Godwin Obaseki
  • Edo gov to formally join opposition today, says party
  • Court renews order for Giadom to act as APC chair

 

Chuks Okocha, Alex Enumah, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) thursday announced a three-day delay in its primary in Edo State, apparently to pave the way for the Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, to pursue his re-election bid on its platform.

The PDP, which has held a series of meetings with Obaseki since his disqualification from the race for the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship ticket last week, and subsequent resignation from the party on Tuesday, shifted its primary to June 23. It was initially billed to hold between tomorrow and Sunday.

Obaseki will now join three other aspirants to vie for the PDP’s governorship ticket for the September 22 election in the state.
THISDAY learnt that Obaseki would formally defect to the PDP at a ceremony billed for Benin City today.

However, the leadership crisis in the APC, triggered by the Court of Appeal judgment that affirmed the suspension of its National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, festered yesterday as the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) renewed a March order for the party’s Deputy National Secretary, Chief Victor Giadom, to act for Oshiomhole.

The APC National Working Committee (NWC), shortly after the Court of Appeal judgment, had named one of Oshiomhole’s zonal deputies, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, as the interim national chairman.

But Giadom, on Wednesday, kicked, contending with Ajimobi for the leadership of the party, based on the March order he had earlier secured. Few hours after Giadom declared himself the interim national chairman, the NWC met and reaffirmed the choice of Ajimobi as the acting national chairman. The party organ also suspended Giadom for alleged anti-party activities.

However, THISDAY gathered yesterday that based on the understanding reached with Obaseki to allow him compete for the PDP’s ticket with the three other aspirants that were earlier cleared for the race, the party has written the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), notifying the commission of its intention to shift the primary.

National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, confirmed the shift of the party’s primary via his Twitter handle.
He tweeted: “@OfficialPDPNig has postponed its primary election in Edo State to Tuesday, June 23, 2020.”

But THISDAY gathered that the postponement of the gubernatorial primary was to enable the party to finalise negotiations with Obaseki and accommodate him in the election.

A source close to the party said the shift in the date of the primary election was to give Obaseki and his deputy, Hon. Philip Shaibu, a soft landing so as to participate in the party’s screening and primary election.
The source added that the PDP will give Obaseki and Shaibu a waiver to enable them to contest the governorship primary on the new date.

The source said if things go as planned, Obaseki would be affirmed by the delegates on June 23.
However, the source added that if the other aspirants, Gideon Ikhine, Kenneth Immasuagbon and Omoregie Ihama, insists, they would be allowed to contest.

The source explained that the new date for the governorship primary falls within the June 2 and June 27 deadline given by INEC for all parties to conduct their primaries.

PDP, in a statement, elaborated more on the shift in the date for the primary.

It said: “The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has postponed the Edo State governorship primary election earlier scheduled for Friday, June 19 and Saturday, June 20, 2020 to a new date of Tuesday, June 23, 2020.
“This decision is predicated on exigencies of party activities.

“All governorship aspirants, critical stakeholders, party faithful and our teeming supporters, particularly in Edo state, are to take note accordingly,” the statement, signed by Ologbondiyan said.

Ologbondiyan also told THISDAY that the PDP NWC was waiting for Obaseki to formally join the party by registering his membership at his Ward 4 in the Oredo Local Government Area in Edo State.

Also, the Chairman of PDP in Edo State, Hon. Tony Aziegbemi, told THISDAY that Obaseki was being awaited in Benin from his trip to Abuja to register as a member of the PDP.

The South-south National Vice Chairman of the PDP, Chief Emmanuel Ogidi, also confirmed thursday in Benin City, that Obaseki will formally join the party today.

Court Renews Order for Giadom to act as APC National Chair

The crisis rocking the ruling APC deepened yesterday as a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) reaffirmed Giadom as the acting national chairman of the party.

The court also ruled that the National Vice-Chairman North-east, Mr. Mustapha Salihu, should act as the national secretary.
The rulings of the court yesterday were sequel to ex-parte motions filed by Salihu.

Justice S. U. Bature held that his ruling would subsist pending the time the APC National Executive Committee (NEC) convenes and takes a decision or the determination of the suit.

Justice Bature was the same judge who made an order allowing Giadom to act as the party’s national chairman when a court ordered the suspension of Oshiomhole in March.

However, Salihu has dissociated himself from the purported interim court order for him to act as the national secretary of the party.
Salihu said he was not a party to the suit, adding that it is not in his character to play dirty politics, especially when the party is going through trying times.

Salihu, in a telephone interview with journalists yesterday, said there was no way he would have been part of the interim order when he was at a meeting of the party’s stakeholders from the North-east when the decision was reached to nominate and endorse Waziri Bulama as the acting national secretary of the party.

Court Validated Ajimobi’s Appointment into NWC, Says APC Legal Adviser

National Legal Adviser of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Babatunde Ogala, has debunked the claim by Giadom that Ajimobi was not duly appointed into the NWC of the party.

Ogala told Channels Television yesterday that Giadom was brought into the NWC the same way Ajimobi was appointed.

He said: “When the position of the deputy national secretary was vacant, the zonal congress of the party leadership nominated a replacement. That was how Victor Giadom got into the NWC. So, he who comes into equity must come with clean hands.”

Ogala, however, said the Federal High Court on March 13 affirmed the appointment of Ajimobi as the deputy national chairman.

He said: “How can you (Giadom) who claimed to be an Acting Secretary now go to another court to say there was nobody in office? The order of March 13 was served on me; the order of March 16 in which the process filed is against me and the party, Publicity Secretary and National Secretary are yet to be served on us till today. The orders they (Giadom and others) are parading on social media are yet to be served on the party as we speak.”

INEC: Court will Determine Who to Recognise as APC Chair

The INEC has said it is aware of the leadership crisis in the APC and will rely on the orders of the court to determine the authentic chairman of the ruling party.

Answering a question from THISDAY on whom it will recognise as the substantive acting national chairman in view of the conflicting claims by Giadom and Ajimobi, the INEC National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Information, Festus Okoye, said: “The commission will also apply for and obtain the Certified True Copy of the rulings, judgments and orders made in the various suits in court.

“The commission will study the constitution of the party and its regulations and guidelines relating to the conduct of party primaries.”

He, however, warned parties not to allow any the crisis to affect the dates for the conclusion of their primaries.

APC Inaugurates Edo Guber Primary Election Committee

The APC thursday inaugurated both the primary election and appeal committees of the Edo state Governorship primary scheduled for June 22.

The Acting National Chairman of the party, Mr. Hilliard Eta, said that the inauguration marked the commencement of the process of the Edo primary.

Eta noted that the job of the committees is to carry out the process of selecting the candidate of the party in Edo State, adding that if there are concerns or disagreements after the exercise, the Election Appeal Committee would be on ground to deal with it.
Chairman of the Election Committee, and Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma, said he was honoured for the rare confidence reposed in the committee by the party.

Eta later told journalists that the process for the replacement of Giadom, who has been suspended from the party, has commenced.
Eta said there was no way a member of the party or NWC would contest any election without resigning from his office, according to the dictates of the constitution of the party.

He noted that the only way he could have come back is if the NWC transmits a letter back to his zone.
But in a swift reaction, Giadom described his suspension as a cheap propaganda.

He added: “My brother, the court order is in the public domain. You should read it. The order still subsists.
On his purported suspension, he said, “All cheap propaganda. Tell them to show you a copy of my letter of resignation”.

A’Court Sets Aside Order Restraining APC from Direct Primary

The Court of Appeal in Benin has set aside the order of the Federal High Court restraining the APC from conducting the June 22 governorship primary using direct method.

On June 8, the Federal High Court in Benin, presided by Justice Mohammed Umar, had restrained the APC from conducting the primary in Edo State using direct method.

But Justice Morenike Ogunwomiju who headed the three-man Appeal Justices set aside the order by the lower court, saying the trial judge gave a problematic order that was not sought by the parties.

In the lead judgment in the suit by APC, delivered by Justice Ogunwomiju and backed by Justice Oseji, she said: “The trial judge (Justice Umar) gave a problematic order that was not sought by the parties to the suit. As at the date (June 8) the order was given, the political party (APC in Edo State) had 14 days to organise its governorship primary election. Every judge must be a democrat.
“The appellant (APC) was not given an opportunity to be heard by the trial court. The injunctive order of the trial court of June 8 is hereby set aside. The administrative orders subsist and the issue of jurisdiction should be determined by the trial court.”

In his dissenting judgment in the APC’s suit however, Justice Adume declared that the injunctive order of FHC ought not to have been set aside, insisting that the appeal was interlocutory, incompetent and should be struck out.