Confusion has engulfed the Ogun State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as three members of the electoral panel which conducted the local government congresses voided the exercise and described them as a sham.
Besides, a Magistrate’s Court sitting in Isabo-Abeokuta, the state capital, has restrained the Tunde Odanye-led Caretaker Committee from conducting congresses which could lead to a breach of order in Ogun State.
The report of the committee made available to journalists in Abeokuta by the Bayo Dayo-led faction loyal to Senator Buruji Kashamu, said the congresses held on October 28 did not follow guidelines of the party.
The report dated October 28, 2017, was jointly signed by the Secretary, Dr Fabian Ihekweme and two members, Hon Dan Lawrence and Hon Dele Olugbemi.
The signatories alleged that the Panel Chairman, Hon Kingsley Chinda and a member, Hon Ashawulu, refused to sign the report “because of their allegiance to Hon. Ladi Adebutu and and Otunba Gbenga Daniel.”
“We therefore, declare the Ogun State L.G.A congresses as null and void and of no effect and we urge the National Secretariat of PDP to disregard the results as collated by the Caretaker Committee in Ogun State.
“And to immediately order for a new congress that will meet up with the spirit of the constitution of PDP and guidelines,” the report said.
In his ruling delivered in a suit number MA/540C/2017, Magistrate Idowu Olayinka held that “the embattled Exco and the Caretaker Committee of PDP Ogun State are ordered to restrain from engaging in any physical confrontation likely to lead to breach of peace in Ogun State or any part of Ogun State;
“The two accused persons, the Caretaker Committee and any persons or group of persons, deriving authority from them are hereby restrained from holding any congress, gathering, public assembly or meeting likely to cause breach of peace in Ogun State or any part of Ogun State.”
He also ordered the AIG in charge of Zone 2, officer in charge of Zonal Intervention Squad, the Commissioner of Police, Ogun State command, Department of State Service (DSS) and heads of police formations in the state, to arrest, investigate and prosecute any member of the caretaker committee, found in violation of the order.
He, therefore, adjourned the case to 21st November, 2017, for hearing of preliminary objection.
Addressing journalists on the ruling at the PDP Secretariat at Kuto, Dayo said the ruling further confirmed authenticity of his faction as valid PDP executives in the state.
He urged the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Leadership of PDP to obey the court judgment which had declared that their tenure expires in 2020.
“On rule of law we are staying in Ogun State and Makarfi himself is a product of the rule of law.
“I have copy of a report sent to me from the National Secretariat of our party as it affects Ogun State. All the people that have been running helter-skelter in order to have illegal congresses in both wards and local government levels are wasting their time.
“The executives at the ward, state and local government levels, their tenure expires in April, 2020. And unless the judgment is set aside there is nothing anybody can do about it.
“If today we have the judgement from the competent court telling us that we are no more the executives of Ogun State PDP, of course, we will have no choice than to leave the Secretariat and go away.”
In a swift reaction, a member of the Caretaker Committee, Sunday Solarin, who later addressed journalists in Abeokuta, described the report which voided the congress as a ruse.
Solarin said the report was masterminded by those “who are alien” to the congresses, which in his words, were peacefully and validly conducted.
The Caretaker member also said the ruling delivered by the Magistrate “has changed nothing” because none of the ward and LG congresses was characterised by violence.
He added that there is no going back on the State PDP congress slated for Saturday.
Solarin said: “One would be surprised when those who didn’t participate in the congress that was validly conducted and peacefully held, described it to be a sham. One is highly perturbed. And I can confirm to you that congresses were held across all 236 wards of Ogun State and subsequent week, another congresses were conducted in all the 20 LGs of the state.
“The Magistrate didn’t say it (congress) should not hold. He only said it should be conducted peacefully. And Perhaps, the Caretaker Committee in Ogun State is not meant to conduct the coming state congress. It will be conducted by Electoral Panel that would be sent from Abuja and I am sure they are not restricted by any court of law. Even up till now, no court of law in Nigeria had stopped or restrained the Caretaker Committee in Ogun State from conducting congress.
“Nothing happened. Nothing has changed. Nothing has been affected. So, the Saturday congress is going to be held. It will be conducted by the Electoral Panel sent to the state by the National Chapter of the party.”