At a stage, the crisis in PDP in Anambra State was thought to have been resolved following the recognition of the Uchenna Emodi leadership by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.
However, a new twist has emerged. A former state secretary of the party and one of the chairmanship aspirants, Chief Kenneth Emeakayi took everybody by surprise when he filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Awka last week seeking for the courtâ€™s declaration that both Uchenna Emodi and Ifeatu Obiokoye who are laying claim to the chairmanship position, were not competent to lay such claims, having decamped to DPP and ANPP respectively in 2007 from where they campaigned against PDP.
The manner in which lawyers invaded the court to represent the contending interests showed how serious the matter is. Specifically, Emeakayi is praying the court to interpret sections of the PDP constitution relating to persons who held offices in the party and decamped and later returned to the party.
In this interview, Emeakayi explains why he took the action and debunked the insinuation that he is being sponsored by PDP opponents to do what he is doing. Excerptsâ€¦
By Vincent Ujumadu
YOUR court action took Â everybody in PDP by surprise and one wonders why you did this?
I am in court to salvage the image of PDP in Anambra State. I am in court to put the records straight and streamline things. The action I filed is for the court to interpret the constitution of PDP because the way some people are going in Anambra State is tending towards a direction that will bring confusion and total disorder in the party. Having reached the national secretariat of the party before now for interpretation and I could not get answers, I resorted to the court to interpret the various sections of the PDP constitution.
One is to determine whether it is right for a member of the party who was holding office in the party and decamped from the party to another political party to come back and lay claim to the same political office he was holding before leaving the party. Why it is necessary for me to go back to court to seek interpretation is to save the situation because the impression people have down here is that some of our people in Anambra State make the whole thing look as though the problem in the state is coming from the national secretariat of the party.
That is not the true position.Â The true position is that the present crisis in PDP Anambra State is something that is being manufactured here. The problem is that before now, nobody had brought to the attention of the national secretariat what the problem is. Before now, all that our people did was to go to Abuja and talk about tenure. Another group will go and say, donâ€™t recognize Uchenna Emodi but recognize Ifeatu Obi-Okoye.
Nobody has brought it to the attention of the national secretariat that that is not supposed to be the issue. The issue at stake is not the question of recognizing Uchenna Emodi or Ifeatu Obi-Okoye. It is not an issue of tenure. It is an issue of the constitution of the party. Take Ifeatu Obi-Okoye for instance. I am not disputing that he was at one time or the other, elected as chairman of the party.
The issue here is that Ifeatu Obi-Okoye was elected and at a point he left the party. I am not dwelling at the controversies that surrounded his election, or his removal or his return. The point was that on his own, he left the party for another party in 2007, the All Nigeria Peoples Party and became the director general of the ANPP campaign organization.
The question is, going by the provisions in the constitution of our party, can he, after leaving the party and campaigning against PDP during an election and after the tribunal cases, come back to want to occupy the chairmanship position he abandoned in PDP? The same thing with Emodi who left and joined DPP and he is back to lay claim to PDP chairmanship.
These are constitutional issues and as a lay man, I decided to go to court which has powers to interpret constitutions. If the court agrees with me going by our party constitution, it should then declare that two of them who were members of the party and later left, cannot come back to lay claim to their former offices.
What of the decision by the reconciliatory committee appointed by the party that all the aggrieved members who left for one reason or the other should come back without conditions attached?
The committee did not say they should continue with the positions they were holding. What it said was that such people were free to come back. Assuming, that there will be congress of the party in Anambra, the committee said they would not contest unless the appropriate executive gives them waiver.
Besides, no recommendation of any committee can supersede the provisions of the constitution. If we allow this to continue, there will be no end to tenure crisis in this country. If they said everybody should continue from where he stopped, then somebody like Audu Ogbeh can ask for the national chairmanship seat and Vincent Ogbulafor will be asked to vacate office.
Same goes for other former national officers that left the party and later returned. For instance, I left PDP for AD when I was secretary of the party and going by what they are doing, I can lay claim to the secretary ship of the party. This is not in our constitution. When I returned to PDP in 2004, I didnâ€™t lay claim to the office I was occupying. I rejoined the party constitutionally until the party called for congresses when I became qualified to contest. That is the argument.
With the 2010 governorship election coming up in January 2010, donâ€™t you think the crisis in PDP may deny the party the chance of fielding a candidate for the election?
That is the situation I am trying to save. You see, with what Ifeatu Obi-Okoye and Uchenna Emodi were doing in PDP before I went to court, their plan was capable of making PDP not field any candidate for the election. This is because the PDP constitution as amended in 2009 stated that it is not the national executive that will convene the congress to elect the candidate.
Rather, it is the state executive that would determine the venue and time for the congress. So, if it is left as it is presently, with two people claiming to be the authentic chairmen and each of them brandishing all manners of court orders, it would be difficult to have proper executive. That is why I need the court to interpret it.
What I filed in court was originating summons which could be decided in one day. But instead of PDP members joining issues on the interpretation, they went to court arguing about service, even though we duly served all of them.
Was there no way you could have brought this constitutional issue to the attention of the national leadership without resorting to the court?
You see, I am a small man. I donâ€™t have other means. The only means is through the media which I am doing.
There is also the allegation that you have been approached by another political party, APGA, to become its state chairman.
Well, somebody sent a text to my mobile phone one day, saying it was learnt Governor Peter Obi and Chuma Nzeribe were behind my court action. This is laughable. What is there to show that I cannot prosecute this matter on my own? When I started the state chairmanship struggle of PDP in 2007, most of the people making noise in the party today were not in PDP.
The former presidential aide, Dr. Andy Uba, was at his peak. Most of the people were so afraid that they could not paste any poster and it was then I came out and declared my intention to run for chairman. Since then, I have been consistent with my aspiration to become state chairman which, to me, is not a personal thing.
I have often said that it is fine if one does not like the face of Kenneth Emeakayi. But elect somebody from the South senatorial zone. Besides, which APGA am I trying to become the state chairman? Is it the one under Chief Victor Umeh or that under Chief Chekwas Okorie? They have more crisis than PDP. To me, moving from PDP to another party is moving to nowhere. There is nothing like that.
Those who are saying these things are only trying to blackmail me and stop the national leadership of PDP from looking into the matter at hand in Anambra PDP. The true position is that once the national leadership takes a stand on this issue, the matter will be resolved. What has surprised me in this matter is that so many people are coming for joinder when what I asked for was that the party should interpret the PDP constitution as it relates to decamping and coming back to the party.
Are they coming to court to interpret the constitution themselves? The only person that should come into this matter is actually the national legal adviser or the national chairman. Another surprising thing was that the same people who obtained court injunction from Onitsha are saying that the court lacked jurisdiction to interpret the PDP constitution.