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    Friday, October 11, 2013

    Rebel Governors, Others Suffer Double Setback

    The New Peoples Democratic Party  has suffered a double blow  as its quest to have  Dr. Bamanga Tukur sacked and be recognised by the authentic PDP have been rejected by the Independent National Electoral Commission and a Lagos High Court in Ikeja.

    While INEC said it would not withdraw the recognition already given the National Working Committee of the Tukur-led  PDP,  the Lagos High Court  on Thursday said it lacked  the jurisdiction to entertain a suit in which the New PDP sought an order stopping Tukur from parading himself as the authentic chairman of the ruling party.

    The commission  was responding to two separate letters dated  September 1  and 23, 2013 by the  Alhaji Baraje-led  New PDP   asking  that it should be   recognised as the real PDP.
    The Baraje faction has seven  PDP governors and a former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, as its arrowheads. The governors, who are generally referred to in the media as  ‘rebel or aggrieved governors’  are Babangida Aliyu (Niger); Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers); Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto);  Rabiu Kwakwanso (Kano); Muritala Nyako (Adamawa); Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara); and  Sule Lamido (Jigawa).

    INEC,in a letter addressed to the National Secretary of the New PDP, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, which was obtained exclusively by The PUNCH on Monday, argued that Tukur and other NWC members of the PDP  were duly elected  during  two  conventions  monitored by its officials.
    The letter which was  signed by INEC  Acting Secretary, U.S.Usman  and dated  October 2, has   reference number INEC/LEG/PDP/19/III/245.
    It  reads, “Re: Notification of changes in the leadership of the PDP  and request for formal recognition.

    “The commission acknowledges the receipt of your letters dated   September 1  and 23, 2013 respectively wherein you requested the commission’s recognition of the Baraje-led faction and the newly elected NWC.
    “You will recall that the commission monitored the national convention and special national convention of the PDP  held on   March 24, 2012 and   August 31, 2013 respectively, at  the Eagle Square, Abuja after notices to the commission.
    “An  NWC  was elected at the two conventions with Alhaji  Tukur as the national chairman. The commission will not withdraw recognition from the leadership of the PDP  elected at elections duly monitored by the commission. Please be guided.”

    In Lagos,  a high  court  presided over by Justice Oludotun Adefope-Okojie,  said it  had no power to assume jurisdiction over a matter which originated outside its territory.
    Baraje,   Oyinlola, and  the National Deputy Chairman of the New PDP,  Dr. Sam Jaja,  had asked  the court to restrain  Tukur and other NWC  members  from further parading themselves as the officials of the PDP.
    They said in the suit filed on September 1, 2013  that  they were  the authentic members of the National Executive Committee of the PDP elected on August 30, 2013 at a parallel congress.
    PDP itself was joined as the fourth claimant in the suit, while Tukur and others were  the respondents.

    Ruling on the preliminary objection  by the respondents,  Justice Adefope-Okojie noted  that the applicants had averred in their affidavits that  the course of action and the dispute leading to the action,  were  the special conventions  of the PDP  in Abuja.
    She  had  added that the respondents confirmed that the PDP had its registered office in Abuja and that none of the defendants was resident in Lagos State.
    According to  her,   the doctrine of enforcement of judgment is not relevant to the suit before it.
    Adefope-Okojie therefore  dismissed the claimants’ argument  that  the court  had jurisdiction over the matter .

    But  the judge said the doctrine of judgment enforcement was not relevant at the present stage as the court   had no jurisdiction to hear the matter in the first place.
    She said, “I hold that with the defendants not resident in Lagos and the subject matter originating in Abuja, the High Court of Lagos State has no power to assume jurisdiction over this suit.
    “I accordingly make an order striking out the suit.”

    Counsel for the respondents, Mr. Joe Kyari-Gadzama (SAN), and Mr. Emeka Etiaba, had in their preliminary notice of objection, asked the court to strike out the suit for lack of jurisdiction.
    The lawyers  argued that the writs of summons did not comply with the mandatory requirements of Section 97 of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act because they were not endorsed.
    But the claimants’ counsel, Mr. Robert Emukpaeruo,   insisted that the court had jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

    President Goodluck Jonathan, in his capacity as the leader of the PDP, had held a series of meetings with the  seven aggrieved governors with the aim of finding a lasting solution to the party’s crisis.
    The  Baraje-led faction however said in a statement by its  National Publicity Secretary,  Chief Chukwuemeka Eze, that    there was no cause for alarm over the court ruling.
    It  said   the ruling had nothing to do with the merit of the case but the place of its filing.

    The statement added,  “As advised by Her Lordship, we shall hasten to re-file the suit, this time in Abuja, as we are convinced about the merit of our case.
    “Our determination to sack the usurper, Tukur, and rescue our great party from his misrule has never been stronger.”
    The faction  therefore urged its supporters and members  not  to despair or exercise   fear  but  should continue to support its leadership.

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