…Metuh, Mark sue for peaceful PDP primaries
…PDP asks court for a hands-off suit seeking to halt its presidential primary
…Hearing continues May 25
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri & John Alechenu, ABUJA
About 24 hours to the commencement of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, primaries, disputes over the authentic delegates list and litigation are threatening the exercises.
Vanguard gathered that the Senator Iyorchia Ayu-led National Working Committee, NWC, spent a considerable amount of time deliberating on the issue at its regular meeting, yesterday.
The party’s primaries for the election of state houses of assembly, governorship, National Assembly and presidential candidates are scheduled to begin with state assembly congresses on Saturday, May 21.
A member of the party is also in court seeking an order to stop the May 28 presidential primaries over the refusal of the party to zone its presidential ticket as stipulated in its constitution. The party, last week, threw the ticket open to all parts of the country. The hearing in the suit will continue on May 25.
On Wednesday, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, criticised President Muhammadu Buhari over his reluctance to sign the amended version of the Electoral Act (section 84 (8), which provides for elected officials to take part in primaries.
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He said the delay is part of the ruling party’s plot to disrupt preparations by opposition political parties to disenfranchise Nigerians.
The PDP spokesman said: “It is not surprising but disappointing and dislocating. As of today, parties do not know for certain who the delegates are and democracy thrives on certainty.
“The APC is not a political party. It was cobbled together as a Special Purpose Vehicle to grab power. Now it is in power look at where it has led us.”
Apart from the super delegates, the PDP is also having issues with some state delegates, especially Anambra.
Metu cautions PDP against disenfranchising Anambra delegates
Former National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, who is a chieftain of the party in Anambra State, was part of the stakeholders invited by the NWC to a meeting over the delegates list from the state.
He said, to the best of his knowledge, there was no problem with the list from Anambra because valid congresses where delegates were elected at the ward, local governments and state levels were held last February and March.
“It is with a heavy heart that I am addressing the public today, specifically on the issue of Anambra State PDP; we have had problems in Anambra State for the past two months to three months and we decided to allow the NWC to handle this issue. But having exhausted all patience, negotiations, and all the reports, with this National Working Committee, we have to bring them to the public.
“Today, the national chairman and the NWC invited us to a meeting to address what they felt was an issue in the party. We specifically told the national chairman, and the National Working Committee, that there is no problem in Anambra State.
“We have award congress, local government congress recognized by NWC backed with an INEC report. The only thing remaining is for the National Working Committee to go ahead and get the congress report and do primaries for us.
“Surprisingly, and curiously, they chose to delay the process because there was an order, an interlocutory order to stop them or recognize a different faction and later a judgment of course came to recognize the same list that is backed by a report.
“There’s an unwillingness on the part of the National Working Committee and the national chairman to proceed and we decided to go public and plead with the national chairman, the National Working Committee as the custodians of the party administration, to please effect the will of the people if you have recognized the ward and local government congresses that you have announced.”
He further said: “You have an INEC report by the same committee, the same list that you recognise and kept with the judgment of the court. It is only imperative that the national chairman and the National Working Committee obey. “Any other thing will mean that it is a conspiracy to throw a state into confusion.”
Metuh urged the party leadership not to pander to the wishes of godfathers who he declined to name when asked. He, however, said as a loyal party man, he and his colleagues respect the leadership of Mr Peter Obi as the leader of the party in Anambra State.
Senator Mark sues for peaceful PDP primaries
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, 2023 National Convention Organising Committee, Senator David Mark, appealed to party faithful across the country to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship in the conduct of the primaries.
In a statement ahead of the party primaries, which will begin with the election of candidates for the state Houses of Assembly seats on Saturday (May 21, 2022), Senator Mark urged party men and women to comply with the rules of the game.
The former President of the Senate (2007- 2015) said “the party has clear guidelines and rules for the exercises. Every aspirant should be guided by the processes. The party will not compromise any of the rules.”
Party asks judge to hands-off suit against presidential primary
To ensure a successful primary on May 28, the National Secretary of the PDP, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, on Thursday, asked Justice Donatus Okorowo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, to hands-off the suit seeking to halt the scheduled presidential primary election of the party.
Anyanwu, in a petition he forwarded to the Chief Judge of the Court, Justice John Tsoho, accused Justice Okorowo of bias.
The PDP scribe, through his lawyer, Mr Kalu Agu, urged the CJ to transfer the case to another judge of the high court for fair adjudication.
He alleged that Justice Okorowo granted ex-parte orders against the party, even though PDP has a legal representative before the court.
Anyanwu, listed as the 3rd defendant in the suit lodged by an aggrieved presidential aspirant of the party, Mr Cosmas Ndukwe, contended that processes the trial judge relied on to summon PDP to appear before him to show cause why reliefs sought by the plaintiff should not be granted, was not ripe for hearing as at the time the order was made.
He, therefore, maintained that the judge had, by his actions, exhibited “manifest bias”, adding that allowing him to continue with the case, will lead “to a breach of fair hearing.”
Alternatively, he applied for a stay of further proceedings in the case, pending the outcome of the petition before the CJ.
Counsel to the plaintiff, Mr Paul Erokoro, SAN, opposed the application which he described as an abuse of the court process.
In his bench ruling, Justice Okorowo declined to halt proceedings in the matter which he adjourned till May 25 for hearing.
The court equally granted an application that another presidential aspirant of the party, Mr Mohammed Hayatu-Deen, filed to be joined as the 5th defendant in the matter.
The plaintiff, Ndukwe, a former Deputy Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, had in an application he brought before the court, seeking an order of injunction to restrain his party from proceeding with its scheduled primary election, pending the hearing and determination of his suit challenging the position of the party on the issue of zoning its presidential ticket.
Though the court declined to grant the restraining order, it directed the plaintiff to put all the Defendants on notice to enable them to appear before it to show cause.
In its swift objection to the suit, PDP, aside from challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/508/2022, argued that the case had become status barred.
According to the defendants, “the cause of action in the suit relates to the internal affairs of a political party and therefore falls within the doctrine of political questions which are non-justiciable” and as such, the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain it.
PDP noted that the cause of action arose from a communique its National Zoning Committee issued on April 5, whereas the plaintiff’s suit, was filed on April 19, 15 days after, in violation of Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, which provides for 14 days for filing of such cases.
The party maintained that the court lacked the vires to delve into its internal affairs, stressing that the subject matter of the case, which borders on whether to zone its presidential ticket to any part of the country or not, was not an issue that the court was constitutionally empowered to adjudicate upon.
It, therefore, urged the court to vacate its earlier order that directed it to show why reliefs the plaintiff is seeking in the suit should not be granted.