Gentlemen of the Press, distinguished ladies and gentlemen.
Our dear party, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) has been going through difficult times since the loss of the 2015 general elections. Our findings reveal that this is due largely to factors within the Party on the one hand, as well as needless and desperate orchestration and manipulation of internal frictions within the PDP by the ruling party, and also the active connivance and complicity by certain overzealous Judges of the Federal High Court and some officious police officers.
The crisis in the national body of the PDP has a lot to do with the mismanagement of internal crisis in the Ogun State Chapter and needless introduction of “Judicial Politicking” to outsmart fellow party members in Ogun State by a self-styled politician, now a Senator from Ogun State. This process resulted in judicial bondage of the party.
The Senator joined PDP in the year 2010 on the pretext of humanitarian assistance, through a foundation. He would routinely tell party members that he was not interested in contesting any elective position; not even the post of Councillorship, as (according to him), he had no paper qualification to contest election. Dissatisfied political actors and leaders in Ogun State PDP were coerced to embrace him and the rest is history. The party broke into three or four political parties, namely: Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN), PDP, Labour Party and some defected to ACN and others. This disintegration gave the Senator the latitude to hijack the party (PDP) structure in the State by appointing his puppets into the Executive committee, thus making it impossible for true reconciliation even after dissatisfied members were prevailed upon to return to the party (PDP).
Subsequently, party nominations became highly ‘commercialized’ by the Senator, who routinely demanded and collected huge sums of money, running to hundreds of millions, from candidates while using criminal methods to change names of candidates at will long after deadline for nomination of candidates had expired. In some cases, the Senator arranged for signatures of some candidates to be forged for the purpose of making a case for “voluntary” withdrawal. Quite unfortunately also, the desperate Senator also feigned death of a candidate for the purpose of replacing them after the close of nomination. These are a few of the reckless acts of impunity that characterized the ruining of the party.
Complicity of Certain Judges of the Federal High Court:
The self-styled political leader teamed-up with others to amplify the division in the Ogun State Chapter of the PDP to a crisis level in 2010 till election time in 2011. Court orders were spuriously obtained, mainly Ex-Parte Orders from the Federal High Court in Lagos. Notably, Justice Okeke (retired), Justice Archibong (now dismissed), the now “notorious” Justice Okon Abang (then also of the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court; now presiding in Abuja). The controversial ruling of Justice Kafarati of the Federal High Court, Abuja was all that was needed to change the political settings in Ogun State and Nigeria as a whole.
The Senator would boast openly that he has Judges on his pay roll. He soon became “Judicial Contractor” procuring orders and judgments at will.
It has become so bad that some politicians in the country have ascribed to him the status of “Judicial Master” or “Authority” by the frequency and ease with which the Senator has procured orders and Judgments most recently the Abia saga and ongoing Sheriff drama. He was the mastermind of the national leadership crisis of the PDP and instrumental to the removal of national officers of the PDP Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Former National Secretary of the PDP); Hon Bode Mustapha (National Auditor); Engr. Segun Oni (former South West Zonal Vice Chairman) and others. In their stead, he manipulated the Court (same Judges of the Federal High Court) to give ruling and curious judgment to remove national officers that ultimately destroyed the National Exco and brought a new set of national officers of the PDP (particularly the former National Secretary, Auditor and others) who were loyal to him. These offices are still in contention and are the basis for varied court rulings and judgments till date and as such an albatross to the National Conventions of May and August 2016.
It is equally surprising that Justice Abang and Buba of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja and Lagos respectively have been most controversial. In Suit No. Suit NO. FHC/L/CS/636/2016 before Hon Justice Buba, counsel for the Defendant (PDP) filed a number of applications before the trial court to wit: Notice of preliminary objection dated 23rd of may 2016 and filed on the 24th of may 2016; Further affidavit in support of notice of preliminary objection dated and filed on the 7th of June 2016; Counter affidavit against Motion on Notice dated 6th of June and filed 7th of June 2016; Motion on Notice dated and filed 8th of June 2016; Motion for Stay of Proceedings dated 17th of June 2016 and filed on the 20th of June 2016. The trial court refused to hear any of the applications of the counsel for the PDP.
The trial court did not take into account the interest of the PDP on the issue of legal representation but rather ruled and imposed Counsel appointed by the Plaintiff on the Defendant, thereby making the matter “Ex-Parte” (one sided).
The counsel accorded recognition by the trial court did not file any process or application for and on behalf of the PDP as against several processes filed by the illegally excluded Counsel, and did not oppose the applications and or originating summons of the Plaintiff during proceedings. The trial court refused to take into account the fact that there is a disclaimer by the Former National Deputy Chairman of the Appellant, Prince Uche Secondus on the purported appointment of Mr. Godswill Mrakpo as the counsel for the Appellant. The trial court also refused to take into account the resolution of the National Caretaker Committee which appointed Mr. Ahmed Raji SAN and Dr. Yemi Oke as counsel for the Appellant.
Justice Buba made an order refusing to join other interested parties after excluding the Counsel appointed by the National Caretaker Committee and proceeded to hear the substantive matter same day on the 23rd of June 2016, which was not opposed by the Counsel he imposed on the PDP. The judged hurriedly adjourned the two suits to the following day, 24th June 2016, and gave judgment whereas there was no urgency. The judgment was rushed and delivered without the PDP being given an opportunity to participate during the proceedings and or deliberately precluded from participating in the proceedings.
The subject matter is non-justiceable, being an intra-party and or domestic issue or affair of the PDP. The administrative remedy within PDP had not been exhausted as stipulated by law. The subject matter relates to the control and management of the PDP which is not a matter within the competence of the Federal High Court. The reliefs sought by the Plaintiff relate to the activities of the Ogun State Executive committee which is outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Honourable Court. The matter is on appeal, and we are determined to vigorously pursue the appeal.
It is of great curiosity to us that despite the fact that Hon. Justice Okon Abang had been queried and issued several letters of warning in respect of Ogun State PDP and its members by the Chairman of the National Judicial Commission in person of the Justice Hon. Justice Mahmud Mohammed, CON, the Chief Justice of Nigeria/The Chairman, National Judicial Council (NJC). For some reasons Justice Abang has continued to show particular interests on the matter of PDP in Ogun State. For the record, the “Letter of Caution” dated 7th March 2016 has been made public. Hon Dave Salako of Ogun State PDP wrote a petition dated December 9, 2013 and a follow-up petition dated 19th December, 2014 and another petition dated March 4, 2015 against Hon Justice Abang, on the subject matter to Hon. Justice Mahmud Mohammed (CON). On the same subject matter, similarly, Hon Kayode Amusan wrote a petition dated March 3, 2015 following the order he granted for the removal of his name from the nomination list of Independent National Electoral Committee over his supposed death. This continued miscarriage of justice against PDP, Ogun State has compelled Hon. Sikirullai Ogundele, Chairman of PDP Ogun State to file a Motion (on behalf of the Executive of the PDP in Ogun State) before Justice Abang in Suit No: FHC/Abj/CS/464/2016 to join the suit as an interested party as well as for leave to appeal. In the interests of justice, the Motion also specifically prays for an order staying further proceedings in the matter pending the determination of the Appeal lodged by the Interested Party/Applicant (Hon Sikirulai Ogundele) against the Orders of this Honourable Court contained in the Ruling of the Honourable Court dated 28th July, 2016. Specifically, it also prays for an order disqualifying Hon Justice Okon Abang from continuing to hear and/or preside in the matter on the ground of bias pending the determination of the Appeal lodged by the Interested Party/Applicant against the orders of this Honourable Court contained in the Ruling dated 28th July, 2016.
Sadly, and most bizarre of a judicial officer, at the proceedings on Monday 15th August, 2015, Hon Justice Abang harassed and intimidated Hon Sikirulai for filing a motion in Court and threatened to jail him and his Counsel for exercising their legal rights. At the appropriate time, Hon Sikirulai will take the matter of harassment and intimidation at the appropriate quarters.
Hon Justice Abang is known to have given series of controversial rulings and judgment in cases involving Ogun State PDP. Only few days ago, the Justices of the Court of Appeal took their turn in expressing their displeasure for the messy judgment he gave in respect of the Abia State saga. These have been widely reported in the media under various captions. The ‘testimony’ of Justice Abang is well reported and has attained global notoriety. Quoting from the lead story in the Thisday newspaper of Friday August 19, 2016:
“Controversial Abuja Judge, Abang, Turned the Law on Its Head”, Says A’Court:
Justice Ogunwumiju, who delivered the lead judgment yesterday in one of the appeals, held that Justice Abang “committed grave violence against one of the pillars of justice” relating to fair hearing…. She further held that Justice Abang raped democracy in his order that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should issue a certificate of return to Dr. Samson Ogah when there was no evidence of forgery or criminality against the appellant. …According to the court, the judgment given by Justice Abang was grossly erroneous, because it was based on inadequacy of tax receipts that could not be visited on the appellant (Ikpeazu). Justice Ogunwumiju held: “After reading through the judgment several times, I was amazed at how the trial judge arrived at his conclusion of perjury against the appellant when there was no evidence of forgery. His findings are ridiculous. “The judge must have sat in his chambers, unilaterally assessed and computed the taxes of the appellant and came to the conclusion that he did not pay the required taxes….
The above speak for itself. However, one keeps wondering why almost all cases involving Ogun State PDP that were filed by the law firm working exclusively for the Senator are done in Lagos (and sometimes Abuja) and always assigned then to Justice Okeke and Archibong; and now Justice Abang, Buba and Kafarati despite the fact that the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court have held (times without number) that Federal High Court has no jurisdiction in political matters; and despite the fact there is a Federal High Court in Abeokuta (assuming Federal High Court has jurisdiction). Even in the Abia case decided few days ago, the Court of Appeal, reiterated the fact that the Federal High Court lacks jurisdiction.
It needs to be pointed out that, most times, (if not all the times), the controversial rulings and judgements of these questionable Judges are upturned on appeal (if the adverse party demonstrates enough courage- if exigencies of times permits, to test the ruling or judgement on appeal. The recent Abia case is a classic example. The Court of Appeal in Ibadan had also reversed the removal of former National Secretary of the PDP, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola who was removed in a controversial ruling procured by the maverick Senator. However, Prince Oyinlola had since moved on.
Our Vision and Determination:
As true democrats, we remain committed to the task of democracy which thrives on effective and efficient opposition politicking. We have been at the receiving end of injustice perpetrated by the above named judicial officers and their collaborators, including some senior police officers.
While we remain resolute, we wish to state emphatically that we’ll do all reasonably possible to pursue and continue to pursue justice and rule of law in Nigeria no matter the inconvenience of doing so. We seek to provide the people of Ogun State with credible alternatives. We aspire to instill confidence in governance and alleviate the sufferings of the good people of Ogun State. We believe that our great party, the PDP remains the best political platform for achieving our vision and objectives given its sound manifestoes and track records of governance and leadership, particularly in Ogun State. We undertake to continue in hot pursuit of fairness, justice, rule of law and enthronement of democratic values.
In conclusion, I wish to state that the disruptions of the National Convention of our party in May and August 2016 are as a result of certain desperate party members of Ogun State extraction who desired to lord it over everyone through the manipulation of judicial process and other institutions. I appeal to all fellow party members and our supporters to remain resolute and stand united as we relentlessly pursue justice, fairness and equity. In the end, the PDP, Ogun State and Nigeria will be better for it if we all do that which is noble, honorable, reasonable and patriotic.
I cannot but mention the dastardly physical assault on my person during the just concluded convention in Port-Harcourt. It is interesting to note that as a ranking member of the NASS of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who had the privilege to serve for the first time in the 3rd NASS, and now presently serving in the 8th NASS was attacked by a hoodlum Senator who during my first tenure was essentially a miscreant and a fugitive to law. By continued silence, it would appear that one is complacent or part of the silent conspiracy to overlook the short comings of people that have come into sudden pre eminence today. Often, I asked myself if the issue of who is “Eso Jinadu” is addressed as regards the jail break wouldn’t the purpose of justice be properly served and the trauma PDP and the nation is going through mitigated?
I wish to use this forum to rededicate myself to the challenges, struggles and victories ahead. My supporters and I will continue to remain firm and unflinching in our loyalty and support for the national leadership of the Party under His Excellency, Senator Armed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party; the Ogun State Executive Committee of the PDP under the leadership of Hon. Sikirulai Ogundele, and all party institutions, organs and leadership at the national, state and other levels.
I remain firmly committed to the ideals and visions of the founding fathers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Ogun State in particular.
God bless our party, PDP! God bless our Great Nation Nigeria.!!
Thank you for listening.
HON. OLADIPUPO ADEBUTU