Judiciary Creating More Problems For PDP, Democracy | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Judiciary Creating More Problems For PDP, Democracy

Judiciary; PDP
Posted: Aug 21, 2016 at 4:32 am   /   by   /   comments (0)
CJN Mohammed

CJN Mohammed

Justice Abang

Justice Abang

For the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), this is not the best of times. The party does not seem to have recovered from the defeat it suffered in the 2015 general elections. The party did not only lose several states, it also lost the Presidency to the All Progressives Congress (APC), leading to the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation.

Since then, all has not been well with the PDP, which had boasted that it would rule the nation for 60 years. Prior to the defeat, the party had ruled the nation for a straight 16 years, controlling majority of states.



But, the failure to retain its grip on power seem to have put a knife on the strings that held the party together, and it has since fallen apart. All efforts to bring the pieces together seem to be a mirage.The party has since been facing crises at the state and federal levels, thereby dimming all hopes of it coming to power in 2019.

More importantly, the inability of the PDP to put its house in order so far, has negatively impacted on its ability to perform its role as a vibrant opposition party to the APC government, thereby dealing a powerful blow to the nation’s democracy and by extension, Nigerians in general.

In order to find solution to its protracted leadership crisis, the PDP factions resorted to the judiciary, each filing cases at the courts, especially the Federal High Courts at different divisions, which have equal powers. But, looking at all efforts to reinvent itself in its new role as the face of opposition in the country, the judiciary and the way the courts have impacted on the party’s efforts appear as its greatest albatross.

The party is presently encumbered in a string of court cases which have torn it almost in tatters. The courts have, therefore, been more of encumbrances to the PDP than helping it out of its myriad of problems. This is because various judges of coordinate authorities have manacled the party with contradictory pronouncements on matters of related concerns.

Going Down Memory Lane

Looking beyond the problems of the PDP, the judiciary has been enmeshed in the web of political manipulations in the history of Nigeria’s democracy. In the days of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC), the two parties sired by the Gen, Ibrahim Babangida military junta, which culminated in the June 12 electoral quagmire, for instance, the budding democracy ran into trouble when the late Justice Bassey Ikpeme, a Federal High Court judge in Abuja, in a case filed by the Association for Better Nigeria (ABN), ordered a halt to the June 12, 1993 poll barely 48 hours to the election. Several cases followed, with judges making conflicting orders and the country’s democracy never survived the crisis.

The PDP crisis could be traced back to the agitation for the resignation of Adamu Muazu and Ahmed Gulak’s struggle to take over the chairmanship. Following a lot of strategising, political maneouvres and backstabbing by the stakeholders, Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff was drafted to checkmate him. This was unacceptable to a cross section of the party as the two major factions, one led by Modu-Sheriff and the other by Ahmad Makarfi have been frequenting the Federal High Courts, especially the ones at Abuja and the Port Harcourt Division, which had been dishing out rulings and orders that appear not only contradictory, but are favourable to whoever takes the matter before them. The judges dish out the rulings, oblivious of happenings at the sister court and decisions of brother judges.

This has made it difficult for the PDP to successfully organize and hold its National Convention to pick those who will lead it to the 2019 elections. Each attempt made to hold the convention is always thwarted by court orders, which are executed through active involvement of the security in a way that seems far from being impartial. This has led to the current situation whereby the tenure of the Ahmad Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee has to be extended till August 2017.

The Aborted Port Harcourt Convention



On Monday, August 15, the PDP premises in Port Harcourt was agog with a lot of activities as members of the party from across the country trooped in to participate in the botched national convention. Screening of the candidates vying for various positions was done after which they signed an undertaking that whoever emerged as the PDP National Chairman would be accepted by all to move the party forward.

But, on Tuesday, discordant tunes began to play out as a group said to be in support of Chief Olabode George raised the alarm during a press conference at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Port Harcourt. The group alleged that there was a grand design by Governors Nyesom Wike and Ayo Fayose of Rivers and Ekiti states respectively, to impose the party’s former governorship candidate in Lagos, Jimi Agbaje, on the party.

The South-South Youth Renewal (SSYR), threatened that the raging crisis rocking the party would worsen if its leadership failed to allow a level-playing field for all candidates.

Ipalibo Tonye, President of the group, said that Agbaje was too new in the PDP to be allowed to be its national chairman, adding that as a PDP founding member, Chief Olabode George was a better candidate for that position.

Later that same Tuesday, during a press conference in Government House, Port Harcourt, the chairman of the August 17 National Convention Planning Committee and Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, denied the allegation of planning to impose Agbaje on the party.

Tonye has said: “We are crying out to the world now because we are seeing dangerous moves by Governors Ayo Fayose and Nyesom Wike to manipulate and rig the election for the national chairmanship position in favor of a green horn candidate called Jimi Agbaje

“Wike in his own wisdom is returning Uche Secondus as the national deputy chairman. We all know that Secondus has spent well over 16 years at the national secretariat. He is a seasoned administrator who knows all the ropes and the mechanisms of party administration,” he said.

The group warned that this was not the time to entrust the fortune of “our party to a fortune seeker”, adding that PDP, as a political party, needed the intellectual capacity of a man like Bode George, one of the founders of the party.

According to the youth group, if PDP must wrestle power back from the ruling APC, the “the right thing must be done. According to Tonye, “Chief Bode George is a popular candidate. He is loved by all members of our dear country across the length and breadth of Nigeria.

“He is the man we need at this critical moment in the history of our party to turn things around for the better. Agbaje cannot be trusted. We know his antecedent in the last governorship election in Lagos state. Please let our party leaders allow the spirit of internal democracy prevail in the party.”

He also warned that any attempt to impose a wrong candidate as chairman would cause “a very serious implosion in the party to the extent that PDP will split to the base across the country.”

But Wike in response said: “There is no plan by me or any person for that matter to impose any candidate in the convention. The election will be free and fair. The era of imposing candidates in our party is over. The delegates will choose who they will want to represent them after the election tomorrow (Wednesday).”

Port Harcourt And Abuja Court Judgments



Earlier in the day, the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had declared that the PDP National Caretaker Committee had the executive authority in all matters concerning the party.

In judgment on Suit Number FHC/PH /CS /585/2016, between Senator Ben Obi for himself and other members of the National Planning Committee of PDP and the Inspector-General of Police, the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State, Department of State Security (DSS), and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Justice Ibrahim Watila  ordered the  Police,  DSS  and INEC to  participate in  the August 17, 2016 National Convention.

He declared: “It is necessary for the defendants to carry out their respective functions at the August 17, 2016 convention.” The court declared that its judgment of July 4, 2016 remains valid until set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction, which in this case is the Court of Appeal.

This was later followed by another order from Abuja Federal High Court banning the party from holding any convention. Justice Okon Abang, who delivered judgment on the matter, ordered the INEC not to monitor the convention.

Police Invasion Of Convention Venue

At about 2.am on Wednesday, armed policemen had taken over the Sharks Stadium, venue of the convention, barring delegates from gaining entry. It was at this point that it became clear that serious trouble was brewing.

Meanwhile, two candidates vying for the position of PDP national youth leader, had accused the Federal Government and the APC of masterminding the cordoning off of the Sharks Stadium. Hon. Ogidi Ben Bara alleged that the Inspector General of Police was being used by the Federal Government to frustrate the PDP from holding its national convention.

“What has just happened is highly condemnable. What type of court order are policemen enforcing that would make them take such action? This has to stop, because the PDP has every right to conduct its affairs.”

Also commenting on the situation, Hon. Kabiru Sani Garkuwa appealed to the “Federal Government to hands off the affairs of the PDP in line with the tenets of democracy.

“We know that some persons are behind this situation. And we are not happy over it. If the situation deteriorates, it could lead to something else,” he said.

Did The Port Harcourt Convention Hold Or Not?

With the invasion of the Sharks Stadium by the police, the convention was hurriedly shifted from there to the PDP secretariat at Aba Road, thereby causing an unprecedented traffic jam for several hours. Thus has led to the question of whether the convention really held or not, moreso against the backdrop of the Abuja court ruling.

However, the party chieftains believe, rightly or wrongly, that if the convention had held as planned, one of the aspirants to the position of national chairmanship, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, would have pulled a string and eventually emerged victorious.

Barring the possibility of candidate imposition by the party leadership at the dying minute as was alleged, Dokpesi, whose good rapport with the PDP youth wing, might have had an edge over other candidates.

One of the chieftains, Engineer Ibrahim Garuba, in a brief remark, said that the north had concluded on who they would vote as the chairman of the party. Though not willing to disclose the identity of the candidate, it was evidence that the north was disposed to voting for Dokpesi.

Days Of impurity In PDP Is Over – Modu-Sheriff

Embattled factional PDP National Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, has said the days of impurity has ended in the life of the party, stressing that his intention was to return the party to the masses.

Speaking through Don Uba, one of his aides in a statement, Sheriff after the Federal High Court, Abuja ruling, noted that by the court decision, the caretaker committee led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi had been nullified.

Uba quoted Sheriff as saying: “PDP is known for impurity. It has worked before. It has stopped as far as I am concerned. I wish to use this opportunity to call on Makarfi and others to join hands with me so that we would make this our party great again”.

He also called on the Edo State gubernatorial candidate of the party, Hon. Matthew Idnoriyekemwen, to commence campaigns immediately so that they would reclaim the state in the next governorship election.

Sheriff, former governor of Borno State, stated: “We will get PDP back to the people who own it. When people don’t want to follow the rule of law what follows is disaster. Judgment of the court is clean. It nullified everything done by Makarfi and others since their purported appointment as the caretaker committee. All they have done is null, void and of no effect.

“In some states where congresses were not properly done, we are going to revisit them, but our priority is to go to Edo State and win the governorship seat. We are not going to ask anyone to leave the party, but the system would certainly flush out the bad people.

“All members should join hands to move this party forward. No room for impurity. PDP is for the people. We are not fighting a war, but our interest is to see Makarfi leave and join us. They should come back as there is nothing they did that would last for a test of time.

PDP Still Desirable, Distractions Not Withstanding – Ex-Speaker

Speaking on the litigations and how they impacted on the PDP, former Deputy Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly and a major stakeholder, Rt. Hon. Emeka Stanley, disclosed that although the litigations constituted a distraction, the stakeholders had continued to forge ahead with progressive programmes and policy formulations, thereby making the party more desirable than it had ever been.

Stanley, who is also the Chairman of the Abia State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (ASOPADEC), insisted that the litigations are antics of the enemies of the party to throw spanners in the works.

He however maintained that the development had to bolster the resolve of the PDP family to resolve their differences and forge a common front to solidify the party for future electoral victories as against the belief in certain quarters that it would have disintegrated by now.

Stanley stated; “One thing I want you to know is that we understand where all these are coming from. Since we know who our enemies are, it has been easy for us to separate them and mark them. The different court ruling, especially the negative ones, have never and will never dampen our determination to give to Nigerians the good things that come with democracy and the only way to succeed in this task is by putting aside distractions and focusing on the goal.

“We have never removed our eyes from the goal post, since these distractions set in, and I want to authoritatively inform you that we will never remove our eyes from it. The thing propelling us is our desire to make Nigeria a better country. We know we have the capacity, the men, women and youths, the capabilities to once again make Nigerians to smile.

“This is our driving force and we are determined to see it through. The gravely and grossly erroneous Abuja High Court ruling by Justice Okon Abang never dampened Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s determination to give Abia purposeful governance.

“The opposition to our arriving at our destination is huge because they know that if they remain numb we will sweep the polls again. So, we expect them to use everything at their disposal, including some section of the judiciary.

“But, I must let you know that the PDP is a law abiding party. We introduced obedience to the rule of law and we will continue to abide by it. Since the commencement of these distractions, we have always obeyed lawful rulings.

“We have never decided to choose which to obey and which not to. We know there are still very sound judges in the Bench and these justices are ever ready to do the needful irrespective of whose ox is gored. So, because of them, we will never go outside the dictates of the law.

“We want Nigerians to be still and watch as things play out. Already Nigerians have noted the difference when we were in command and now that we are not, many people accost me on the road many times and appeal that we must not relent because they have learnt their lessons. We won’t dampen their faith, instead we must give them the confidence that it would soon be over.”