SMARTING from increasing hostility to his position, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, Wednesday threatened that all public officers elected on the platform of the party “who identify” with a faction of the group “shall have their seats declared vacant.”
Addressing a press conference at the Wadata Plaza national secretariat of the party in Abuja, Tukur also threatened that security agencies would be directed to take care of all those who declared themselves leaders of a ‘New PDP’ last Saturday.
But the chairman of the breakaway PDP called ‘New PDP’, Abubakar Kawu Baraje, described Tukur as ignorant and unfit to be PDP national chairman.
In a telephone interview, Baraje said: “They don’t know what is party politics. We are not surprised because he is ignorant of party politics.
“In any case, the declaring of seats vacant or recalling members of the National or State Assemblies is well known to the constitution.
“To wake up and threaten that he is going to recall shows he is ignorant. He is not fit to be called the national chairman of the PDP.”
Also, PDP’s National Vice Chairman (South-East), Col. Austin Akobundu has affirmed that the factionalisation of the party was a non-issue as far as the zone was concerned.
On telephone yesterday, he remarked: “The South East PDP as a body is strong, united and solidly under the leadership of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and the national chairman, Dr. Bamanga Tukur.”
Noting the grouses of the breakaway group, he said, “I believe the national body is studying the situation. But for us in the South East, we know where we stand.”
On the parallel primaries and the emergence of two governorship candidates in Anambra State ahead of the November governorship election, which outcome is among the grouses of the faction led by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the retired Colonel pointed out that “we have already submitted the name of Tony Nwoye as the duly elected candidate. He emerged from a duly observed and credible primary conducted by the Governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shehu Shema, the governor of Gombe State Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo with Senator Ndoma Egba in attendance. It is the responsibility of the national body to take care of things from there on. We have done our beat.”
According to Akobundu “as far as we are concerned, the truth is that mentioning it among their grouses is a confirmation that Tony Nwoye is the governorship candidate of the PDP in the November election. Having said that, we are aware that the matter is under litigation and we are leaving it at that.”
Describing himself as being firmly in charge of the party, Tukur said there was no faction in the party.
Following the breakaway of seven governors and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Baraje emerged as the chairman of the “New PDP.”
A total of 26 senators and 57 members of the House of Representatives have so far been reported as having publicly declared support for the “New PDP.”
Tukur’s statement noted: “Our reason for being here is to inform you without any iota of doubt that the People’s Democratic Party has no faction and there is neither room nor reason whatsoever for such a claim under any guise.
“The PDP has only one duly elected National Executive Committee (NEC) under my chairmanship. I wish therefore to state with all emphasis that any group of persons parading themselves as leaders of NEC or any other organ of our party are impostors and I urge all Nigerians, especially the security agencies and other institutions of democracy, to regard them
He continued: “Let me state categorically that the PDP as the sole custodian of the sacred mandate of over 160 million Nigerians and who in the last 14 years has lifted high the banner of democracy will not fold its arms while some undemocratic and unpatriotic elements destroy our common destiny by causing divisions and confusion among the people.
“Consequently, we shall ensure that any person who is not duly elected into any leadership position in our great party and has not been duly assigned any role but goes ahead to arrogate such to himself will be made to face the full wrath of the law.
“Similarly, all persons elected on the platform of our great party at all levels who identify with these enemies of the oneness and greatness of our party shall have their seats declared vacant as required by law.
“We shall leave no stone unturned to ensure that such persons and indeed any other individual who attempts to subvert the leadership of the PDP shall reap in full, the consequences of such actions.
“I wish to emphasise that the PDP has adequate mechanism for internal conflict resolution. All party members are therefore advised to ventilate their grievances through this medium.
There is only one lawfully-recognised PDP and I am firmly in charge.”
Meanwhile, the Baraje-led faction of the party in Kwara State has alleged an impersonation of the office of Alhaji Isola Balogun-Fulani who is the state chairman of the party.
According to the PDP secretary in the state, Yemi Afolayan, yesterday at a press briefing in Ilorin, there could never be the existence of any PDP faction in Kwara beyond the one known to Baraje and the former governor of the state, Bukola Saraki, citing the alleged oneness of all the members of the party in the state.
He said the existing structure of the party in the state would not allow the existence of any factional chairman, warning that any attempt to break the unity of the party in the state would be resisted.
But angered by the action of the breakaway governors, Chairman of the Stakeholders’ Council in the South-West, Senator Lekan Balogun, has described the state executives’ action as a demonstration of ego and lawlessness.
In a statement made available to reporters in Ibadan, Balogun said the action of the governors was a serious assault on the nation’s democracy.
Meanwhile, the crisis rocking the PDP took a new dimension yesterday as Tukur filed a suit before a Federal High Court, Abuja, urging it to convict Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, former Osun State governor, to prison for a term of one year.
Tukur, in the suit no: FHC/ABJ/50412013 filed on his behalf by Chief Adebayo Dayo and Semiu Sodipo for themselves and on behalf of Executive Committee of the PDP in Ogun state, also asked the court to commit Baraje and Dr Sam Sam Jaja for same offence and prison term.
Jaja is the deputy national chairman of the new PDP and are cited as contemnors, while Oyinlola is the defendant alongside PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Counsel to Tukur, Mr Ajibola Oluyede, who addressed newsmen in his office at Oniru Estate, Victoria Island, said he also had the authority of his clients to file another suit before a Lagos High Court, sitting in Ikeja, asking it to throw out the suit brought before it by Baraje and others against Tukur and his executive committee for lack of jurisdiction.
In the suit seeking for committal of Oyinlola, Baraje, Jaja as well as INEC, Tukur prayed for an order of the court committing Oyinlola to a prison for a term of one year or as the court may otherwise determine for reason of the contempt committed by the contemnor as held by this court in its judgment of 11th January 2013.
Tukur is also seeking an order of the court committing Oyinlola as the 1st alleged contemnor to a prison for a term of one year or as the court may otherwise determine for reason of the criminal contempt committed by him in his conspiracy with the second and third alleged contemnors and actions taken pursuant thereto to flout the purpose and authority of this court (as contained in the and exercise by the court in its judgment delivered on January 11, 2013.
Tukur, is also seeking the relief for an order of court nullifying the appointment of Oyinlola, the 1st alleged contemnor as national secretary of the PDP, just as it asked the court to grant “further orders as it may deem fit to make in this circumstances.”
According to the counsel, Oyinlola was sacked through the order of the court, saying the suit against became imperative because he had failed to abide by the procedure the court laid down by which he could reclaim his seat as the national secretary of the party.
Oluyede said infighting in parties could not a danger to democracy, argued that flouting the constitution and order and judgment of court was the real danger that must be avoided.
“It is normal to have alliance in democracy as long as there is room for freedom of speech and association, but what they failed to realise is the need to play the game according to rules and the need to respect established institutions in the country,” he said.
He declared that what Baraje, Oyinlola and others did was tantamount to planning coup detat.
According to him, the PDP Constitution prescribed a way for taking over the leadership of the parry, but what they did is against due process, saying that the Baraje faction failed to follow the party rules.
He accused the faction of attacking the integrity of democracy by dragging INEC into the issue.
Oluyede argued that the INEC should not have registered the People Democratic Movement (PDM) when it knew that most of its members were still card-carrying members of the PDP, saying that the commission action is contrary to section of constitution.
Oluyede said that Baraje, Oyinlola and Jaja had shown flagrant disrespect to to the court, adding: “They have committed criminal contempt in the sense that the Abuja High Court, on the 11th of January in a suit No FHCABJ/504/2013 gave a judgment that removed as the National Secretary of the party and pres0ribed a procedure for his replacement.
“What Baraje group did was a disrespect to the court by re-appointing Oyinlola as National Secretary.
“It is on this basis our client ordered us to take step and filed committal proceedings for criminal contempt against Baraje, Oyinlola and Jaja as co-conspirators in this criminal conspiracy and action, filed a preliminary objection in the suit by Oyinlola and co against Tukur at the Lagos High Court on the ground that the Lagos High Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the matter, which is an internal affairs of the PDP,” he said.
He added that insisted said that Baraje, Oyinlola and Jaja had no platform to be in court.