In a moved targeted at the possible expulsion of its suspended National Secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has submitted his names to the Umaru Dikko-led National Disciplinary Committee (NDC) for anti-party activities.
However, Oyinlola has made it clear that he will not appear before the panel, declaring it illegal since its constitution was not ratified by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party.
Other names submitted alongside Oyinlola’s to the disciplinary committee included the former acting National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Abubakar Baraje, former Deputy National Chairman, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja, and the Vice National Chairman, Northwest, Ibrahim Kazaure.
The four suspended national officers of the party are expected to appear before the committee on November 27, by noon at the Legacy House office of the party.
In a letter released to journalists yesterday by the Secretary of the National Disciplinary Committee, Mr. Onwe Solomon Onwe, who is also is the Deputy National Secretary of the PDP, the four suspended officials of the party were charged with the following offences:
•That on the 31st August 2013 at the special national convention of the party at the Eagle Square, Abuja, the above-mentioned persons and others staged a walkout in a manner contrary to Section 58 (1) (b) (g) and (h) of the constitution;
•That on the 2nd day of September 2013, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola filed suit No. ID/704/2013 against the legitimate party leadership at the High Court of Lagos State without first pursuing the internal remedies of the party contrary to Section 58(1) (L) of the constitution;
• Since 31st August, 2013, the persons mentioned above have granted interviews and made statements in the print and electronic media not only disparaging the national chairman and other national leaders of the party, but also unduly publicising disputes/differences within the party, even in the face of the great restraint demonstrated by the national chairman and other national leaders against whom their calumny is targeted; this, clearly, contravenes Section 58(1)(i) of the constitution;
• That on 1st and 23rd September 2013, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, wrote two letters to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) requesting the commission to recognise the persons above-mentioned as the National Working Committee of the party, even in the face of the national convention held on 24th March 2012 and 31st August 2013. This, also clearly, contravenes Section 58(1)(b)(h)(i) and (j) of the constitution of the party;
• That since 31st August 2013, the above-mentioned persons have consistently maintained that they are of the “New PDP (nPDP)” thereby promoting factionalisation of the party, and in doing so, recruiting to their ranks members of the party in the National Assembly contrary to Section 58(1)(b)(i) and (j) of the constitution”.
Onwe said in the letter that in in keeping with Section 57(4) of the Peoples Democratic Party Constitution, the National Disciplinary Committee has since informed the affected persons of the allegations.
“They are invited to present their own side of the issues before the National Disciplinary Committee,” the secretary of the disciplinary committee said.
But Oyinlola made it clear yesterday that he would not appear before the panel, adding that the PDP constitution stipulates that a disciplinary committee can only be legally constituted if its composition is ratified by the party’s NEC.
“I am sure the membership of the Umaru Dikko panel is yet to be ratified and approved. I also feel sure that elders of the party, so appointed, know the rules and regulations which must not be violated. If they sit to consider any matter, such would amount to nullity and acting in vain,” the suspended national secretary said.
He added that as a law-abiding member of the PDP and free citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he would not be an accomplice or accessory to constitutional violations, considering especially the fact that he swore to an oath of office stipulating that he will respect and protect the grundnorm of the PDP in his capacity as the custodian of the seal of the party.
His reaction, which was contained in a statement released in Abuja and signed by his Principal Secretary, Femi Adelegan, said Oyinlola was conscious of the provisions of the PDP constitution, which state without any equivocation that “nominations to membership of the disciplinary committee at the national level shall be ratified by the National Executive Council of the PDP.
“In effect, Oyinlola, as a law-abiding member of the PDP is not aware of the composition of any disciplinary panel that is not ratified or known to the National Executive Committee of the PDP.
“This reaction, itself is being made out courtesy for the media and its right to be informed as Oyinlola has not received any correspondence from any quarters and would not honour any invitation from any illegal body since that would amount to violating the constitution of the party.
“As individuals and elders, the PDP National Secretary has great respect for the members of the NWC committee that is, however, not recognised by the PDP constitution which stipulates that the party’s NEC is the statutory body to approve the composition of a disciplinary body at the national level.
“It is important to stress that the first meeting of NEC of PDP, which is statutorily expected to be a quarterly affair, deliberated on the composition of the disciplinary committee but never agreed on its membership at the meeting.
“I am also sure that the second NEC meeting, out of the seven meetings that ought to have been held statutorily by the present NWC, did not also agree on the membership of any disciplinary committee.
“It is therefore rather funny, illogical and antithetical to democratic conduct, for the NWC that has consistently denigrated the judiciary, the constitution of the PDP, and even the extant grundnorm of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to be talking about discipline and internal party democracy, when it has continued to show disregard for the rule of law, and fundamental human rights,” he stated.
However, a top source of the NWC told THISDAY that if the four suspended officials refuse to appear before the committee, they might be expelled from the party.
In a related development, the faction of the party under Baraje has said that the insistence by the presidency that Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang is the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) is dangerous and unfortunate.
In a statement by the spokesman of the PDP faction, Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, the PDP splinter group said: “The presidency’s insistence on recognising Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang as the NGF chairman is unfortunate because it does not only send across a dangerous signal but also serves to frustrate efforts to unite the country’s state governors so as to enable them serve Nigerians better.
“Everybody knows that Amaechi won the transparently conducted NGF election of May 24, 2013 with 19 votes to Jang’s 16 votes. By refusing to accept his victory due to his personal differences with President Jonathan and his wife, Dame Patience, the presidency is otherwise saying that majority decision counts for nothing in an election. This stance, if not checked, is capable of plunging the country into chaos during the 2015 general election,” the statement said.
According to the PDP faction, “Sadly, it is this same disdain for majority opinion that has factionalised the ruling PDP and put its very survival in jeopardy.
“We appeal to Mr. President to disregard the misleading advice of the hawks around him and make himself an agent of peace and unity, both in the NGF and the PDP. He should rise above narrow partisanship and see himself as an impartial father eager to reconcile his feuding children.
“Anything short of this will not only tarnish his reputation but also have dire implications for national peace, unity and progress.”
The faction said instead of Jang hiding his face in shame, he had continued to project himself as the chairman of the NGF, even after he was duly rejected by his colleagues, adding, “We all should learn how to protect our democracy and avoid any act that may endanger it.”
Notwithstanding this, the faction congratulated the president on his 56 birthday, saying, “We wish President Jonathan a prosperous and blissful 56th birthday celebration.
“We pray to God to continue to guide and protect him from the evil mechanism and unholy counsel from misguided hawks in the presidency and grant him the wisdom to see himself as a statesman and president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”