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Bankole is Our Official Candidate, Says PDP

Those who were confused by the presentation of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s flag to Speaker of the House of Represen-tatives, Rt. Hon. Dimeji Bankole, in Ibadan, Oyo State, last Tuesday need not worry anymore: the party has said he is a PDP candidate in the National Assembly elections in April.

The declaration by the ruling party came on a day an Ogun State High Court sitting in Abeokuta declared that the dissolution of the Chief Joju Fadairo-led faction of the state chapter of PDP by the national headquarters of the party was illegal, unconstitutional, null and void in what was initially thought to mean the candidates produced by the Governor Gbenga Daniel faction may now get official recognition.

The PDP explained in Abuja Wednesday that it handed its flag to Bankole at the South-west Presidential Rally because it was the political parties that sponsor candidates to an election and not the court nor the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Bankole’s name was not displayed by INEC because of the court order which directed that the General Tunji Olurin list be accepted, while his was contained in the list sponsored by the faction led by Fadairo.

National Legal Adviser of PDP, Chief Olusola Oke, told THISDAY: “PDP presented the flag to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, because we believe that it is political parties that sponsor candidates and not the court or INEC.

“There is no place within the Electoral Act that says that INEC should reject the list sent to it by a political party. Section 31 of the Electoral Act is specific on who sponsors candidates and clearly stated that INEC must not reject any candidate, no matter the circumstances.”

According to Oke, “So, we presented the flag to Hon. Bankole, because we believe he is our candidate.”
On whether the PDP will go to court in view of several restraining orders against the candidates sponsored by it, he said: “PDP does not believe in going to court, but we believe that if any of our aggrieved members, as the case may be, goes to court and we believe that going to court is in the best interest, then the party will support the person”

The PDP national headquarters had, in a letter dated August 6, 2010, dissolved the Ogun executive committee of the party headed by Fadairo.

This prompted the Fadairo-led executive committee to approach the state High Court, Abeokuta to institute an action on August 9, 2010 restraining the National Executive Committee (NEC) of PDP from ratifying the decision purportedly taken by the National Working Committee (NWC) pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

The faction also asked the court to restrain the NEC of the PDP from appointing any caretaker committee or any other committee for the PDP in Ogun State pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

In his judgment, Justice A. O. Jibodu ruled that: “It is hereby declared that the purported harmonisation of the Ogun State Executive Committee of PDP as contained in a letter dated July 30, 2010 issued by the national body of the party and marked exhibit PDP-3 herein is unconstitutional, null and void.”

He continued: “The defendants whether by themselves, or their servants, officers and/or representatives, are hereby restrained from giving effect in any manner whatsoever to the purported dissolution of the Ogun executive committee of PDP as contained in a letter dated August 6 purportedly issued by the National Chairman of the party.”

He therefore concluded that “In view of the fact that the contending parties before this court are members of the same party, I make no order as to costs.”

In his reaction, counsel to the harmonised committee, Mr. Ajibola Oluyede, told THISDAY that the judgment had no biding effect on his client because it had been over-taken by event.

According to him, “the judgment they claimed to have obtained is not on merit because other parties involved in the case were not represented. Only the state affected and I am also not aware that there was any trial before judgment was given.”

However, Fadairo while addressing newsmen at the party secretariat in Abeokuta recalled that “all manners of indiscipline acts that certain people within our party has been exhibiting in the last few months were built upon the purported harmonisation of the Ogun PDP executive council by the national working committee of our party through a letter dated 30th July, 2010 in which party positions were shared.”

He added that “curiously, while this lasted, some members of our party had approached several courts to obtain all forms of injunction on the ground that they were the purported harmonised executive committee of the party. This amounts to an attempt to claim what does not belong to them.”

Meanwhile, the PDP Wednesday began reconciliation talks with Daniel  with a view to working an  acceptable formula to end the crisis in the state chapter of the party.

The meeting was held at Daniel’s Asoludero Court residence in Sagamu area of the state and had in attendance, the Chief of Staff to President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Mike Oghiadome, the PDP National Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Baraje and the former Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, who led the delegation.

THISDAY gathered that the closed-door meeting with the governor lasted for more than three hours.
In an interview with journalists, Anenih said his team was in the state to greet the governor.
It was, however, gathered that the delegation’s actual mission was to appease Daniel and persuade him to change his mind on his planned defection following the rejection of the list produced by INEC.

Denying that the governor planned to abandon the party, Anenih said: “The governor is one of the leaders and pillars of the PDP. I don’t believe he said he was leaving the party.”

Speaking on the way out of the political crisis in the state, Anenih also said: “PDP has a way of solving its problem. So we will solve the problem in our own way.”
In a another development, the Kogi State office of INEC has substituted Mr. Ahmed Salihu Ogembe with Nurudeen

Abatemi, Special Adviser to the Speaker of House of Representatives, and the presumed winner of the Kogi central senatorial ticket.
Head, Public Affairs Department of INEC in the state, Mallam Ahmed Biambo Bagugu, said the commission took the action in compliance with a court order, noting that the particulars of Abatemi would be displayed in place of earlier particulars.

“The INEC, Kogi State Secretariat, Lokoja wish to inform the general public, particularly the Central Senatorial District, that it has received form CF 001 from the commission’s headquarters in favour of Nurudeem Usman Abatemi as the candidate of the PDP for Kogi Central senatorial district, pursuant to the judgment order of Federal High Court, Abuja in suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/69/2011,” Bagugu said.

Also in Kogi State, the insistence of the governorship candidate of PDP in the April election Alhaji Isa Jibrin, to be joined as co-defendants along with his running mate and Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Clarence Olafemi, in the ongoing litigation against their candidature by Alhaji Rasaq Isa Kutepa, has necessitated the postponement of the ruling till Friday, February 18, 2011.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court 6, Abuja, who initially slated Tuesday, February 8, for judgment could not deliver judgment as their counsel Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) held that Isa and Olafemi be joined in the suit as third and fourth defendants.
Though the plaintiff and runners up in the election, Kutepa, is asking the court to stop the PDP from sending any name as the party’s governorship candidate until a re-run had been conducted, INEC recently published Isa’s name as the governorship candidate of the PDP whereas both the PDP and INEC were first and second respondents in the suit.

In a related development, Oyo State Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala has briefed Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) to appear for him in the suit instituted by a coalition of politicians opposed to his second term bid. Hearing on the case commences today at the Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan.

The court, presided over by Justice Johnson Shakarho in its hearing last week Tuesday restrained INEC from recognising Alao-Akala or any of the ruling PDP candidates that emerged in the December 29-31, 2010 primaries of the party in the state for the April poll.
In Borno State, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) has elected the state Commissioner for Health, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, as its gubernatorial candidate for the April polls.

Shettima, who was returned unopposed at the party’s primaries, replaces Modu Fannami Gubio, who was assassinated on Friday, January 21, this year at his family residence  within Maiduguri metropolis by Boko haram militants.

The gubernatorial candidate, who is 44 years old, hails from Maiduguri. He is a graduate of agricultural economics from the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) and a former lecturer in the same institution.

He later joined the Zenith Bank and rose to the position of deputy general manager before he was appointed commissioner.

-Punch

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