In yet another ruling from a court of concurrent jurisdiction, a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has ordered the police, Department of State Security (DSS) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to interfere with the National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt on August 17.
This came as chairmen of the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) chapters of the PDP called on members to be united in their bid to reposition the party for greater heights ahead of 2019 elections.
PDP also got some reprieve yesterday when INEC released the final list of candidates for the Edo governorship election, featuring the name of Mr. Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the candidate of the PDP, on the list.
Shortly after the PDP primary had elected Ize-Iyamu as the candidate of the party to contest the poll in Edo State, a faction of the main opposition party led by its ousted national chairman Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, held another primary through which Mr. Matthew Iduoriyekemwen emerged as the factional candidate.
This led to uncertainty over Ize-Iyamu’s candidacy which was finally laid to rest yesterday by INEC.
Ruling on an ex-parte motion brought before the court by Senator Ben Obi (plaintiff) on behalf of the National Convention Planning Committee of the PDP against the Inspector General of Police, State Commissioner of Police, the DSS, the state Director of the DSS and INEC (as defendants), the presiding judge, Justice Ibrahim Watila, ordered the police and the DSS to provide security for the PDP during the convention.
He also ordered the INEC to monitor the election as required by law.
The motion was filed by Wori N. Wori on behalf of Senator Obi relying on a 34-paragragh affidavit sworn to by Felix Obuah.
“The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th defendants are hereby restrained in any manner howsoever from interfering with the conduct of the national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, the 17th day of August 2016 or any other date and venue pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice or the originating summons as the honourable court may decide,” Watila ordered.
He also ruled: “The 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants are hereby mandated to provide security for the national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 or any other date and venue pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice or the originating summons as the honourable court may decide.
“The 5th defendant (INEC) is mandated to monitor the National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party scheduled to hold in Port Harcourt on Wednesday August 17, 2016 or any other date and venue pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice or the originating summons as the honourable court may decide.”
The court also ordered that the police, DSS and INEC be served by substituted means through their respective offices in Port Harcourt.
It also ordered accelerated hearing on the motion on notice and fixed Friday, August 12 for hearing on the motion on notice.
The ex parte motion came just as the state chapters of the PDP have called on their members to continue to be united and ensure the successful conduct of the convention in Rivers State.
The acting chairman of 36 state chapters of the PDP, Alhaji Yahaya Suleiman, made this call in Port Harcourt yesterday when he led his members on a condolence visit to Rivers State chairman of the party, Felix Obuah, over the loss of his father, Mr. Bathuel Obuah.
Obuah lost his father recently and is currently mourning the loss.
Suleiman expressed the support of the state chairmen of the party for the Ahmed Makarfi-led PDP Caretaker Committee, promising that the national convention billed to hold in Port Harcourt would not be postponed.
He maintained that the state chairmen of the party were backing the resolutions of the last Port Harcourt national convention of the party and would do everything to maintain the integrity of the party.
“During the last (Port Harcourt) convention, we resolved that another convention would be held in Rivers State on the 17th of August. We need to continue to be united to ensure a successful conduct of the national convention.
“The state chapters of the PDP in the country, including the Federal Capital Territory, are in support of the resolutions of the last convention. Nothing whatsoever shall stop the convention and we are not envisaging any postponement,” he said.
He conveyed the condolences of all the state and FCT chairmen of the party to the Rivers State chairman of the PDP over the loss of his father, stating that the Late Pa Obuah died at a time the party was about to celebrate a successful convention.
“We received the shocking news of your father’s death with sadness and we found it is very necessary for us to come down here to commiserate with you at a critical time like this.
“We are about holding our national convention again and this (death) just happened. We are here to tell you to be strong,” Suleiman added.
Responding, Obuah thanked the state party chairmen for their visit, adding that their presence in his house was an indication that they had his interest at heart.
Obuah said: “I am impressed and happy with this condolence visit and considering where you are coming from; the distance, I must say that your gesture is commendable.
“Actually, many will see what has happened to me as painful, but it is the wish of God. With my fellow state chairmen coming from far and near to visit me and to tell me not to cry, they have already wiped away my tears.”
He commended the state PDP chairmen for supporting the Makarfi-led caretaker committee, even as he assured that the forthcoming national convention would hold without any hitch.
“In spite of what has happened to me, I want to assure you that everything that will make the national convention successful has been put in place.
“Let us be focused and let us speak with one voice. We must not allow ourselves to be led astray. Nobody will divide this party any longer. The party is at peace now,” he added.
Meanwhile, the PDP has dismissed rumours that it has put off its national convention, describing it as the handiwork of rumour mongers.
The party said that the attention of the leadership of the party had been drawn to the spurious rumour by the online media purporting that the chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of the PDP, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, had suspended or postponed the forthcoming national convention slated for August 17 to allow time for more reconciliation of the leadership crisis that has bedevilled the party.
The position of the party was made known just as a member of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Chidi Okolo said the convention will be incomplete without the inclusion of the Senator Sheriff faction of the party.
Chief Okolo who spoke to journalists in Abuja, yesterday, added that those governors that initially reached out to Sheriff to lead the party should go back to him and persuade him as a pathway of resolving the crisis.
He urged the governors of the party to stop anointing their cronies in order to have a hold on the party.
In a statement issued by the PDP spokesman, Mr. Dayo Adeyeye,
the party described the rumour as false information, null and void, adding that it only exists in the imagination of the authors and originators of the rumour.
“For the umpteenth time, we reiterate that there is no change to the August 17, 2016 date slated for the PDP national convention holding in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, as approved by the expanded caucus of the party in compliance with the decision of the national convention that reconvened itself within ninety (90) days.
“You will recall that the May 21st, 2016 national convention in Port Harcourt that constituted the PDP National Caretaker Committee mandated it to organise and conduct another national convention within 90 days from the date of the last convention.
“Therefore, the National Caretaker Committee has no power to extend the mandate given to it by the Port Harcourt national convention and will not do so.
“The National Caretaker Committee wishes to advise all stakeholders and the general public to ignore all rumours regarding the purported postponement of the forthcoming national convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State,” he said.
Adeyeye added that the August 17 date was sacrosanct and will hold as scheduled.
“Finally, we enjoin all members of the party nationwide to work closely with the leadership towards a successful national convention that will elect credible party leaders to fill in the vacant positions at the national level,” he said.
However, as the PDP assured its members that it had not postponed its convention, the final list of candidates for the Edo governorship election scheduled for Saturday, September 10, 2016 was released by INEC yesterday.
In a document signed and issued by the Secretary to the Commission, Mrs. Augusta C. Ogakwu, 19 political parties and their candidates were cleared by the commission to contest the election.
Mr. Ize-Iyamu of the PDP was among the candidates on the approved list made public yesterday by INEC, thus putting paid to the controversy over which of the candidates thrown up by the leadership crisis in the PDP would contest the election.
Section 34 of the Electoral Act, 2010, provides that: “The Commission shall, at least 30 days before the day of the election publish by displaying or causing to be displayed at the relevant office(s) of the Commission and on the Commission’s website, a statement of the full names and addresses of all candidates standing nominated.”
The list of candidates and their parties showed that for the PDP, the recognised governorship candidate was Ize Iyamu while his deputy is John Ehibhatoman Yakubu.
For the All Progressives Congress (APC), Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki will fly the party’s flag for the governorship election while his deputy is Hon. Philip Shuaibu.
The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) is Onaiwu Osaze with Okpebholo Oyemen Gladys as his deputy.
The list also showed that the governorship candidate of the Action Alliance is Ishaka Paul Ofemile (Comrade) while his deputy is Ewemade Nancy Osagie.
Action Congress of Democrats has Andrew Igewmo as the governorship candidate while his deputy is Osagie Egharevba Andrew. Others are Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) – Thomas Amanesi Sadoh (governorship candidate), Onaiwu V. Ogbeide (deputy); Social Democratic Party (SDP) – Omorogieva Gbajumo (governorship candidate), Isaac P.E. Ogona (deputy); and United Progressives Party (UPP) – Shadrach Nowamagbe Efogie (governorship candidate), Okosun Davies Roseline (deputy).