Some of the 3,600 delegates expected for the national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party have started arriving in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
One of our correspondents, who visited the Eagle Square, venue of the event, on Thursday, observed that the PDP flag had been hoisted in the venue, while banners and decorations adorned the area. A podium had also been assembled at the centre of the square.
“I’m already in Abuja; the congress is on; it will hold,” the Gombe State Chairman of the party, Maj Gen Mamman Kwaskebe (retd.), told one of our correspondents on the telephone.
However, there is uncertainty in the atmosphere due to a pending appeal filed by the party’s suspended Chairman, Uche Secondus.
An Appeal Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Thursday, reserved ruling on the appeal filed by Secondus seeking the suspension of the national convention scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
Secondus, through his counsel, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), in an appeal marked CP/PH/339/2021, is seeking an order of injunction restraining the PDP, its officers and representatives from holding or conducting the national convention on Saturday and Sunday, or any other date pending the hearing and final determination of the appeal.
However, when the court resumed sitting on Thursday to entertain and rule on the legal submissions of all parties, Oyetibo told the court that in adherence to its directives, he had amended the processes earlier served on all respondents and added the names of all the parties.
Oyetibo said all the 11 respondents had been served the amended processes, adding that one of his motions was filed afresh on October 27 and was ready to be taken.
He noted that Article 35(1B) of the PDP Constitution, made pursuant to Section 222(C) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, used the word “shall” and vested in the national chairman the right and not a privilege to preside over the national convention.
Oyetibo told the court that the intention of his application was not to prohibit the national convention, but to suspend it pending the determination of issues of leadership of the party, stressing that what the court was not to stop were primaries of political parties and general elections.
On his part, counsel for the 1st to 5th respondents, Henry Bello, opposed the application with a 24-paragraph affidavit sworn to by the 1st respondent and urged the court to dismiss the application with cost.
Bello argued that the application sought the determination of the main appeal, which was the leadership of the party, without a hearing, noting that such prayers were not attainable.
He said the five grounds of the appellant’s amended notice of appeal had no iota of allusion to the national convention of the PDP (6th respondent), adding that the application was a radical departure and alien to the main appeal.
Similarly, counsel for the PDP, S. I. Ameh, SAN, prayed the court to dismiss the application, saying the balance of convenience was on the court not to grant the application, because it fell within the set time for the convention as set by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Counsel for the 8th respondent, Godwin Obla, SAN, in a 21-paragraph affidavit sworn to by one Joy Okonkwo, urged the court not to find merit in the application, but to dismiss it.
Also, Donald Dee-Wigwe, SAN, who represented the 9th and 10th respondents, told the court that the office of national chairman was a political privilege and that the decision of the High Court that sacked Secondus terminated that privilege.
Dee-Wigwe noted that being a political privilege, it could not attract a judicial response and urged the court to dismiss the application.
After listening to the arguments, the three-man panel led by Justice Haruna Tsammani reserved ruling on the appeal for today (Friday) by noon.
“We are reserving ruling on this matter for Friday by 12 noon. Nobody has said anything about setting aside the application,” Justice Tsammani said.
The judge warned the media against publishing unsubstantiated reports about the proceedings of the court.