The Appeal Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State has granted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) the right to hold its national convention scheduled for October 30 and 31, 2021.
Delivering the ruling on behalf of two other justices on Friday, Justice Gabriel Kolawole held that the attempt by the applicant, Uche Secondus, to suspend the planned convention is an act of “self-induced urgency” to disrupt an ongoing lawful process of the party.
He wondered why Uche Secondus waited for too long to seek the stoppage of the process which had been communicated to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by the acting national chairman of the party, Yemi Akinwonmi, who Secondus duly handed over to.
The judge also held that Secondus did not oppose the notice of the convention written by the acting chairman to INEC and did not also oppose INEC replying to the PDP through the acting chairman.
Meanwhile, the lawyer to Secondus, Tayo Oyetibo, said his client will wait for the outcome of the main suit on his status as the chairman and a member of the party before the same court to determine whether or not to go on appeal.
He, however, maintained that an outcome in favour of his client will definitely have a consequential effect on the convention slated for Abuja.
A chieftain of the PDP and Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has reacted to the ruling.
Mr. Wike said the ruling was a victory for every member of the PDP.
“It is a victory for every member of PDP,” Wike told reporters. “It is a sign that PDP is prepared for 2023.”
The Governor said Mr Secondus had already handed over his chairmanship to PDP National Deputy Chairman (South), Yemi Akinwonmi, and had no right to seek the postponement of the convention.
“We will not allow any individual or groups to derail the rescue mission of the PDP,” he said. “The title of our convention is ‘Join us to rescue Nigeria’.
“Nigeria is in problem and we cannot do it alone. We require everybody to work with us for collectively and see how this country can be rescued.
“So, if there is anybody or group who are being used to derail us, PDP will not take it lightly. We are serious about it and nothing will stop us from rescuing this country.
“PDP should be thanking God Almighty. We should be jubilating and praising God for bringing unity to this country.”
He also noted that the Court of Appeal judgement granted PDP an “unrestrained” right to hold the convention, making any other court judgement obtained to halt the process irrelevant.
Secondus vows to appeal
Meanwhile, Mr Secondus has said he will challenge the ruling of the Appeal Court, according to a statement obtained by Channels Television.
“I have just been briefed of the ruling of the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt dismissing my motion to halt the National Convention of the party,” he said. “I respect the position of the court even though I disagree totally with it.
“Even as the substantive case is still pending at the Court of Appeal I have instructed my lawyers to study the ruling with a view to appealing it immediately as no abuse of the constitution of our dear party should be allowed to stand.
“The issue is not about Prince Uche Secondus but about the sanctity of our party constitution and core democratic principles of justice and rule of law not only in PDP but in our democracy. No impunity must be condoned.
“I will therefore wish to emphasis the fact that I did not take the party to court and would not have done that. As a foundation member of this party who has served at various levels, State Chairman, Chairman of state Chairmen, National Organizing Secretary, Deputy National Chairman, Acting National Chairman and now National Chairman, am very much abreast with the workings of the party. I have been a witness to how much harm litigations have done to our party in the past and as a result I have been a strong advocate against settling issues in courts.
“This was why I resisted and rejected entreaties of those who wanted me to go to court to halt these forces when it was obvious that they were determined to disrupt my leadership and truncate my tenure in office with the sole objective of hijacking the party for their selfish ulterior motives.
“To allow this travesty to stand is to reduce our beloved party to a level where anybody can wake up over night and remove officers against the proscribed constitutional process and the National Chairman for that matter. And purporting to use the judiciary through an experte order to legitimize same.
“As a major practitioner in our democracy, I am duty bound to protect and defend the sanctity of the provisions of our constitution of which am the custodian.
“I wish to therefore at this juncture thank and appreciate leaders and other stakeholders of our party who have called in to express their concerns on this matter and appeal for the understanding of all.
“If those who orchestrated and fostered this avoidable crisis had listened to wise counsel of party leaders and elders who advised the withdrawal of cases, this situation would have been avoidable. I wish the party well as always.”