Following a favourable court ruling last Thursday, Prince Uche Secondus yesterday resumed as the National Chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), at the national headquarters of the party in Abuja, but was prevented from attending the National Caucus meeting of the party.
Justice O. Gbasam of the Degema Judicial Division vacation court, Rivers State had, a few days back, granted an interim injunction restraining Secondus from parading himself as chairman and member of the PDP, sequel to the consideration of an ex parte application filed by two members of the party against Secondus and the PDP.
But last Thursday, Justice Nusirat Umar of the Kebbi State High Court ordered Secondus to return to his position, saying she was satisfied after reading the affidavit of the respondents that an interim order should be granted on the purported suspension of Secondus pending the determination of the case.
Based on Justice Umar’s ruling, Secondus arrived at the national secretariat of the PDP at 9.55 pm yesterday and held separate meetings with the Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jubrin; the national secretary, Senator Umar Tsuari; and other members of the National Working Committee.
The Deputy National Chairman, South, Yemi Akinwonmi, who held the fort in his absence, upon receipt of the court’s order handed over the affairs of the party to him.
According to a statement by Ike Abonyi, Media aide to Secondus, “at the brief handover ceremony, Secondus pledged to continue to provide good leadership to the party. Elder Akinwonmi also announced that he had received the court order, which he presented to the caucus meeting.”
Speaking with newsmen later at the secretariat, Secondus said he returned to office as directed by the court.
He said: “I obeyed the Monday court order that suspended me and yesterday, as all of you are aware, I was reinstated through a stay order. So, as you can see, I am in my office. With me here is the deputy national chairman, Elder Yemi Akinwonmi.”
However, an attempt by Secondus to join a meeting of the National Caucus of the party, which was ongoing at the headquarters, was rebuffed by members of the Caucus.
Sources said members of the National Caucus appealed to Secondus to stay away from the meeting “because the order of the Kebbi State court had not been received.”
Another source said some party leaders told Secondus to stay away from the National Caucus meeting, to allow the party to resolve the matter “in the overall interest of all, with all litigants withdrawing their suits from the court.”
As a result, Secondus remained in his office while the National Caucus meeting lasted.
A source said last night that most governors in the PDP National Caucus do not want Secondus to take charge of the party after his positive Kebbi Court order, so as to prevent him from presiding over the NEC meeting today, where the issue of zoning of national positions would be made.
“These governors have their own agenda and they don’t want Secondus to derail it with the zoning arrangement. This is why they don’t want him at the NEC meeting tomorrow (today), as presiding officer. They will allow him to take charge of the party on Monday after the NEC meeting,” said the source.
However, another source close to Secondus said that the embattled chairman confirmed to him that he had reached an agreement with the NWC members to attend and preside over the NEC meeting today.
At the National Caucus meeting, the acting national chairman, Akinwonmi, informed the members that he had received the court order from Kebbi State, approving the return of Secondus.
The Caucus insisted that a committee be set up with the aim of disposing and resolving the crisis permanently, instead of allowing Secondus to take charge.
Akinwonmi said: “Why I was still panting that it was too stressful for me, a letter was served to me. I know the letter would be of importance to this meeting and I received it. I told him. Coincidentally, I showed the BOT chairman, he said that he received it too; meaning that the letter was served on me and the BoT Chairman and the Chairman, PDP Governors Forum, Aminu Tambuwal, urging the national caucus to take a decision on the Kebbi State High Court order.
Tambuwal assured that the party would resolve the matter peacefully. He said: “I want to assure you that our governors are working together for the benefit of our party, for the benefit of our country. With the assemblage of people here, by the grace of God Almighty, no issue can remain insurmountable.
“I have the confidence that, by the grace of God, whatever issues we have, we shall be able to, at this caucus meeting, resolve them.
“The governors of the party are ready to continue to work for the party, for their respective states, for us to continue to deliver good governance. I believe at the end of this meeting we shall see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
At the end of the meeting, the National Caucus approved a six-man committee to resolve the party’s crisis out of court.
It also recommended that the National Convention should hold between October 30 and 31. The venue of the national convention is yet to be determined. The National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting will hold today, Saturday, August 28 to discuss the zoning of the offices for the NWC of the party.
Governor Tambuwal said the former senate president, David Mark “is heading the six-man committee” that would review the two conflicting court judgements with a view to finally putting to rest the leadership crisis in the party.
Tambuwal said: “We have just risen from our 40th meeting of the National Caucus of our great party, the PDP, where we have resolved to submit to the NEC of our party tomorrow (today), a recommendation from the National Working Committee for the national convention of our party to be held between Friday 30th of October and Saturday 31st of October.
“Also, this distinguished body had empanelled distinguished leaders of our party, under the leadership of former President of the Senate, David Mark to interface with our leaders who are involved in these issues of the court, so that all court matters can be withdrawn and for normalcy to return to the party.
“I appeal on behalf of this body to all well-meaning members of our party to sheathe their sword. Let us embrace peace because Nigeria is waiting for PDP and I believe that we have the capacity to resolve whatever issues we have internally.”
On the position of the national caucus on the Kebbi State judgement on stay of the Rivers State judgement, Tambuwal said, “Well that matter came up, and in view of the fact that we are yet to receive the service of the court order, this committee is going to talk with all the parties involved accordingly.”
Also speaking at the National Caucus meeting, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar said: “We are here today and I believe that our deliberations will be guided by maturity, by integrity, by intelligence, which is all hallmark of our great party. We have gone through greater crises in the history of this party and we have come out stronger each time. And I also believe that we are also going to come out of this crisis stronger. That will lay a foundation to our returning to power in 2023.”
Meanwhile, the David Mark led committee met Secondus in office, where they canvassed an amicable resolution of the crisis to avoid any external body from hijacking the crisis and frustrate any other measure of resolving the crisis.
At press time, the David Mark committee was said to be meeting with the Rivers State Governor, Wike in the government lodge
Meanwhile, the PDP Governors Forum last night denied the insinuation that it had asked Secondus to quit as the party’s chairman, in spite of the Kebbi State High Court order reinstating him.
A statement by Cyril Maduabum, the Director-General of the Forum, said that governors at its emergency meeting on Thursday, 26th August, merely endorsed the NWC resolution adopting Akinwonmi, the Deputy National Chairman, South, as acting National Chairman, and the holding of the NEC meeting of PDP on Saturday, 28th August 2021.
The statement said: “For the avoidance of doubt, this warped interpretation of the statement of the Chairman of the PDP-GF, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, after their emergency meeting on Thursday is clearly mischievous.
“At the time Tambuwal spoke on Thursday night, the Kebbi State High Court Order had not been received by the Forum, and consequently was not discussed or commented upon. This clarification has become necessary to set the facts straight.”