With less than three days to the National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), all is not well within the South-West chapter of the party as gladiators in the zone are still settling scores with court injunctions. WALE ELEGBEDE reports
Ordinarily, the National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), should be a family fiesta where members of the party across world are supposed to physically converge, reunite, compare notes and strategize for future elections . But this is not presently the case, especially in the South West zone of the party.
Aside the fact that the zone failed to push it’s way through for the micro zoning of the National Chairmanship position from the larger box of Southern zoning and also failed to reach a consensus among it’s six aspirants, it is presently entangled in the familiar problem of who is the authentic leader of the zonal executive.
Expectedly, the two gladiators in the zone took the familiar route of the courts and in just one week, two different injunctions were obtained from the courts as regards the leadership tussle in the zone.
In the latest series, the gladiators- Olorogun Eddy Olafeso, who has the backing of Ekiti State governor , Mr. Ayo Fayose, is up in arms with the Chief Makanjuola Ogundipe, an ally of Senator Buruji Kashamu.
On the one hand, there is a difference to settle on who is the chairman of the party in the zone. Is it Olafeso or Ogundipe? On the other hand, a fresh battle for the soul of Ogun PDP has also been ignited at the courts ahead of the National Convention vis-a-vis the delegates that will represent the state at the conventiion .
For those averse with the recurring crisis on the zone, the real bone of contention in South-West PDP is the no love lost relationship between Fayose and Kashamu, who incidentally were once a formidable political ally.
Not ready to have any dalliance with Fayose, the Ogun Senator, perhaps let out his frustration over perceived moves to link him with a defection from the PDP, when he said recently that, “Fayose and (Iyiola) Omisore cannot push me out of the PDP. They do not have what it takes. I am not going anywhere. I remain a strong mobiliser for the PDP and one of its leaders in the South West,” Kashamu said.
Whilst it’s no secret that the crisis that rocked the party for over one year before the Supreme Court ruling of July 12 came to the party’s rescue, snowballed from the South West, the current crisis appears to be moving in similar trend of judicial intervention rather than political solution .
With few weeks to the elective convention, the Ogundipe group fired the first salvo at the residence of one of the chairmanship aspirants from the zone, Chief Olabode George, where it held a press briefing.
Ogundipe , who was accompanied by other members of his own South West exco , including Chief Pegba Otemolu, Otunba Femi Careena, said any attempt to sideline his group “will contaminate the December 9 National Convention and render it a nullity.”
Ogundipe maintained that the party he led in the zone was the only legally -sanctioned zonal exco that could participate in the forthcoming national convention and lead delegates from the South West to the event.
“In order not to take any step(s) that will contaminate the December 9 National Convention and render it a nullity, Chief George and other notable leaders of our party in the zone have resolved to alert the national leadership of our party to the potential landmine that this could be if not properly and carefully handled.
“Consequently, all our leaders have resolved to obey the Rule of Law and work within the ambits of the law. Soonest, an all-encompassing meeting of notable stakeholders inclusive of all the aspirants in the forthcoming convention shall be held to decide a united Yoruba position ahead of the National Convention.
“We also wish to reiterate that contrary to the erroneous impression being created by some opportunists, there is no part of the Supreme Court judgment on the national leadership tussle of our party that gives anyone the right to recognise a nullified zonal exco . It is like trying to wake up a dead man,” Ogundipe said.
But reacting to the threats, Olafeso said that Ogundipe and his group were part of the challenges facing the party since 2011 “till when we won at the Supreme Court in July 12, 2017”.
“It is very unfortunate and tendentious for someone to assume that carrying court papers around is enough to make him the leader of the party.
“Even, if they have court papers to back their claims, the case is already at the Appeal Court. They should wait till pronouncement of the court before jumping around that they are the leaders of the party in the zone.”
However, with a pending appeal by the Eddy Olafeso faction of the party in the zone to a November 8 ruling by Justice Taiwo O. Taiwo of the Ado Ekiti Federal High Court, which declared Ogundipe-led executive as the authentic leadership of the party, fixed for last Monday, December 4, the Ogundipe group called for an adjournment of the appeal citing non-service of the hearing date.
The letter, addressed to the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Ado Ekiti Division, the Ogundipe executive said it is requesting for a postponement of hearing of the stay of execution appeal brought by the Olafeso faction from Monday, Dec. 4.
The letter stated further that, “It is a matter of public knowledge that the 1st of December, 2017, is a public holiday in Nigeria, while the 2nd and 3rd of December, 2017, are non-working days, being Saturday and Sunday respectively.
“The hearing of the Appellants’ motions on the 4th of December, 2017, in the present circumstances would definitely violate the 1st and 5th respondents’ right to free hearing.
“It is in the light of the foregoing that I humbly request that you use your good offices to have the hearing adjourned adjourned to another date to enable the 1st to 5th respondents instruct counsel and be prepared for hearing ,” Ogundipe said.
But without any recourse to the plea for adjournment, the appellate court conducted hearing for the stay of execution plea on the High Court ruling.
The Appeal Court, which also stopped all proceedings at the Federal High Court, Ado Ekiti pending the determination of the appeal, frowned at the a letter dated November 30, 2017 and addressed to the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Ado Ekiti Division, by Chief Makanjuola Ogundipe, seeking a postponement of the hearing of the motion for a stay of execution brought by the Olafeso, declaring that it was an attempt to intimidate the court and that “We refused to be intimidated by the first respondent (Ogundipe).”
In granting the application for stay of execution of the Justice Taiwo Taiwo orders, the appeal court, presided by Justice Ahmad Belgore took cognizance of the pending application to commit Olafeso and others to prison for contempt scheduled to be heard tomorrow at the Federal High Court, Ado Ekiti.
He said: “all the Orders and rulings of the lower court delivered on October 17, October 23 November 8 and November 27, 2017 have been stayed in the interim, meaning that those orders and rulings are of no value as from now and cannot be used anywhere having been rendered null and void, and that all the proceedings at the Federal High Court have been stayed pending the determination of the interlocutory appeal that is before the Appeal court .”
Clearly, the rumble is still thick in the South-West PDP, but the magnitude of effect it will have on the zone’s chances at the convention will be known in the next few days.
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