Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Oyinlola: I Did Not Defect to APC

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Wednesday set the stage for the
expulsion of the chairman of its splinter group, Alhaji Kawu Baraje;
his deputy, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja; and the party's court-reinstated
national secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
The party's disciplinary committee, chaired by Alhaji Umaru Dikko,
recommended to the PDP National Working Committee (NWC), headed by
Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, that the trio should be expelled from the party
for working against its interests.
Baraje and Jaja along with five governors of the party joined other
members of the New PDP on Tuesday to defect to the All Progressives
Congress (APC).
Although Oyinlola, a former governor of Osun State, was at a meeting
where the decision to defect from PDP was taken, he clarified
yesterday that he was not jumping ship with the others to the
opposition party, saying he remains in the ruling party.
According to him, though the PDP is enmeshed in a crisis, he would not
relinquish his mandate as the national secretary of the party to
defect to another party.
"That mandate to serve the PDP was given overwhelmingly by all PDP
members across all divides in the country and same has been
revalidated by the Court of Appeal," he said in a statement signed by
his Principal Secretary, Mr. Femi Adelegan.
He urged PDP members to be steadfast and pray for the party in these
trying times while promising to use his position as the national
secretary, coupled with his experience in crisis management, to help
in rescuing the party from its self-inflicted crisis.
The statement explained that Oyinlola's purported suspension did not
invalidate his substantive position as PDP national secretary and that
he was resolutely committed to leadership through dedicated and
selfless service, and would rise to challenges and the
responsibilities of any office he is privileged to occupy
legitimately; as these virtues had become his second nature.
Meanwhile, the recommendation for the expulsion of the trio, who has
been on suspension for some weeks, is subject to the approval of the
It was gathered that it was in a bid to forestall their expulsion that
the three members of the faction of the PDP had declared for APC,
along with others.
The resolution of the disciplinary committee to recommend their
expulsion was taken despite the fact that lawyers to Baraje, Oyinlola
and Jaja wrote letters informing the committee that their clients
would not be honouring its invitation to answer to the allegations
levelled against them because of a subsisting court case before an
Abuja High Court instituted by the politicians to enforce their
fundamental rights to fair hearing.
The committee however referred back to the NWC the case of PDP's
Vice-Chairman (North-west), Ambassador Ibrahim Kazaure, who was
suspended along with the trio, for an extension of his suspension for
another one month to enable him appear before the committee on
December 10.
Briefing reporters after a meeting of the committee yesterday in
Abuja, the Deputy Chairman, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, said they had
examined all the charges levelled against Baraje, Oyinlola and Jaja
and they had found them guilty as charged.
"But their expulsion is subject to the approval of the National
Working Committee of the party," he added.
Babatope did not entertain any question, stressing that it was part of
the conditions agreed to before he decided to address reporters.
Earlier, a lawyer, D. T. Bukar, on behalf of Awa Kalu (SAN), had in a
letter dated November 26, to the secretary of the committee, Mr. Onwe
Solomon Onwe, explained that Baraje, Oyinlola and Jaja would not be
appearing before the panel because of the court case bordering on
fundamental human rights and fair hearing to which the PDP is one of
the respondents.
Also defending Oyinlola's absence at the committee, one of his aides
who asked not to be named, said in civilised climes, no honourable
person would accept the invitation to be a member of the disciplinary
committee as constituted, given its legal status and the accusations
levelled against the NWC.
He said: "Apart from the fact that the committee was not validly
created, Alhaji Umaru Dikko, its chairman, is the national chairman of
another political party and was not known to be a member of the PDP.
"Chief Ebenezer Babatope, the deputy chairman, contested last year's
election into the office of PDP national secretary against Oyinlola
and was aggrieved, having stormed out of the Eagle Square, Abuja, the
venue of the national convention.
"Incidentally, one of the allegations against Oyinlola was walking out
of PDP's convention last August, the same act committed by Babatope in
the full glare of President Goodluck Jonathan and other top party
"The body's secretary, Onwe Solomon Onwe, has an interest in
functioning as the acting national secretary of the PDP in the absence
of the substantive holder of the position, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
He wasted no time in accepting a celebrated swearing-in ceremony when
Oyinlola was unjustly removed by Justice Abdul Kafarati last January.
"It is obvious that Onwe will embrace and support the idea targeted at
removing Oyinlola to be able to take over the functions of the
national secretary. In the case of Chief Shuaib Oyedokun, he nurses an
inexplicable grudge against Oyinlola, right from his days as deputy
national chairman of PDP and stoutly opposed Oyinlola's bid to fly the
PDP flag as its governorship aspirant in 2003.
"The reason why Tukur chose these people is well known to
right-thinking members of the party and the society but the good thing
is that the committee has not been legally constituted. At least three
members of the disciplinary committee, Dikko, Babatope and Onwe are
"The regulation of the Nigerian Bar Association and the Legal
Practitioners' Disciplinary Committee on lawyers who deliberately
disrespect court rulings and are complicit of foisting a state of
helplessness on the courts is not clear. But the moral angle certainly
precludes lawyers from disparaging the courts, regarded as the bastion
of democracy."

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