Senator Buruji Kashamu, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Ogun State, has urged the party’s national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, to stop misleading the electorate.
Kashamu, who was reacting to a letter written by Secondus and the party’s National Secretary, Senator Ibrahim Umaru Tsauri, to INEC, asking the electoral body to recognise Honourable Ladi Adebutu as the party’s governorship candidate, said the letter was a tissue of lies, meant to blackmail INEC,adding that the ploy would fail.
Kashamu, in a 4th of February, 2019 letter entitled, “Re: Final List of Nominated Candidates in Ogun State” and addressed to the National Chairman, accused Secondus of twisting facts with a view to blackmailing INEC.
According to Kashamu, the Secondus’ letter “drips with the usual lies and blackmail that you have always peddled to obfuscate obvious facts and issues that are glaringly in the public domain.”
He added, “Ordinarily, I would not have responded since the Commission is aware of the issues and has the benefit of sound legal advice from senior lawyers and experts. However, since you are not tired of telling lies, I would also not be tired of telling the truth and exposing your lies to the whole world.”
Going into the genesis of the crisis, Kashamu said, “The indubitable fact is that the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos had on the 24th of June, 2016, delivered a judgment in which it directed the PDP and INEC to deal exclusively with the Engr. Adebayo Dayo-led Ogun State PDP Executive.
“This same judgment was reaffirmed by the Honourable Justice M.B. Idris on the 9th of February, 2018.
“These two judgments formed the basis of the 12th of April, 2018 letter written to you by the Commission in which it informed you of its decision to comply with the terms of both judgments.”
Kashamu said despite the judgments and INEC’s position, the PDP leadership under Secondus opted to act contrary to the position of the law by supporting an illegal executive in the state.
“If you chose to disobey the law and INEC decided to obey the law, how can you blame me for your misfortune?,” Kashamu asked Secondus.
The letter reads further, “Contrary to your claims, I wish to remind you that in its guidelines for the 2019 general election dated the 4th October, 2019, INEC expressly stated that notwithstanding its requirements for the National Chairman and National Secretary to endorse the Commission’s Nomination Forms (not PDP’s nomination forms), it added in Item 6.1 that, ‘Political Parties are to note that where there is a Court Order in respect of the nomination of any candidate, the Commission shall be guided by such Order.’
“Now, in the Ogun State PDP case, there are three subsisting judgments of the High Court and two rulings of the Court of Appeal. In its 25th of October, 2018 letter to you, the Commission referred to three suits, namely FHC/L/CS/636/2016; FHC/L/CS/1556/2017 and FHC/AB/CS/114/2018. It was the interlocutory orders in one out of the three suits (i.e. FHC/AB/CS/114/2018) that were determined by the Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan on the 18th of December, 2018, leaving the final judgments in the two other cases (FHC/L/CS/636/2016; FHC/L/CS/1556/2017) that came first-in-time subsisting and valid till date.
“The only appeal against one of the two subsisting and final judgments was dismissed by the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos on the 4th of May, 2017. A further attempt to relist it was struck out on the 11th of July, 2018.
“The second judgment by the Honourable Justice M.B. Idris (now of the Court of Appeal) was not appealed at all.
“It is inconceivable that the same person who deliberately flouts valid and subsisting rulings and judgments of court could turn round to blame the Commission for his contemptuous acts against the court and the whole judiciary.
“Mr. Chairman, you are the one choosing and picking the judgments to obey. You lack the moral right to accuse the Commission of what you are known for. If the National Chairman and National Secretary of the PDP willfully refused to sign forms that were duly submitted to them in spite of subsisting court judgments directing them to accord recognition to the Engr. Adebayo Dayo-led Ogun State PDP Exco and its activities, including the conduct of congresses/primaries, how can they hold the judgment creditors or the Commission liable for their disobedience?
“It was based on the valid and subsisting judgments of court (not only the interlocutory orders of the FHC, Abeokuta) that Engr. Adebayo Dayo, as the Chairman of the Ogun State PDP Exco, presided over the congress (es) where candidates were elected in line with Section 25(1) of the Peoples Democratic Party Constitution 2017 (as amended) which states: ‘There shall be a State Party Congress which shall consist of: The State Chairman who shall be the Chairman.
“’Section 25(2C) states further: ‘The function of the State Congress shall be to: (c) Elect Governorship candidates of the Party’, among others.’
“It is from the congress chaired by the State Chairman that the list of candidates to represent a Party can be generated and submitted to the Commission. The role of the national leadership or its representatives is merely nominal and observatory. More so, such roles are subject to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, the Electoral Act and the PDP Constitution. It does not give the national leadership of the Party the latitude to act irresponsibly or illegally compile list of candidates.
“When the INEC guidelines say the National Chairman and National Secretary are to sign the Commission’s Nomination Forms, it never envisaged a situation where the leaders of a political party would not obey valid and subsisting judgments of court. Thankfully, the Commission gave the proviso that, ‘…where there is a Court Order in respect of the nomination of any candidate, the Commission shall be guided by such Order’.”
Kashamu added that, “It is also misleading and mischievous to claim that the Commission based its decision to accept, process and publish the list of Ogun State PDP candidates on the ‘judgment of the High Court (Abeokuta’s Division)’. As stated above, INEC’s decision was based on three suits. The Federal High Court order that was set aside is just one out of the three suits cited by the Commission. Two final judgments of court of competent jurisdiction are still valid, binding and subsisting. Even the order said to have been set aside had been overtaken by events.
“On the so-called implications of the judgment of the Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan, I challenge you to quote a part of the judgment that validated your claim or declared Adebutu as the Ogun State PDP governorship candidate.
“For the umpteenth time, I would refer you to the findings of the Court of Appeal at page 12 of the judgment wherein the Court held, ‘The action instituted at the Lower Court is also not in respect of selection or nomination of candidates to represent the 1st Appellant at an election nor is it a complaint against any election, decision or activity of the INEC (10th Respondent). It is in my view, simply an inter-party (sic) dispute between two factions of the party as to which of the factions is the legitimate State Executive of the P.D.P in Ogun State. This appeal is therefore not in respect of a pre-election matter.’
“The findings and decision of the Court of Appeal in the Judgment of 18th December, 2018, clearly shows that the subject of the said appeal was neither related to pre-election issues nor the nomination of candidates to represent the Ogun State PDP at the election.
“Therefore, since the said appeal and judgment do not relate to the list of candidates that would represent the Ogun State PDP at the February 16 and March 2, 2019 elections, the Court of Appeal could not have pronounced on the list of candidates from Ogun State.
“What is more, as can be clearly seen on the face of the appeal, Adebutu was not a party to the appeal. So, how can anyone claim that he is a beneficiary of the judgment?
“It was when you and Adebutu realized that the appeal court judgment did not enure in your favour that you hurriedly and surreptitiously went to the FCT High Court to file a suit meant to ambush me and my associates. You wanted the court to declare Adebutu as the governorship candidate of the PDP in Ogun State without joining me as an interested party or someone who would be affected by the outcome of the suit. It was by providence that I got to know of the suit and applied to be joined in the matter. Again, the devilish move backfired when the court found that you acted in flagrant disobedience of subsisting judgment (s), refused your prayers and dismissed the suit.
“The FCT High Court expressly held on the 14th of January, 2019 that since all the actions of the national leadership of the Party were done in defiance of valid and subsisting court judgments they could not stand.
“So, what is all the lies and blackmail against INEC about? The Commission has acted rightly – in line with its avowed commitment to be law-abiding and rein in political parties when they act illegally and irresponsibly as in this case.”
Kashamu advised Secondus to desist from dragging the name of the party in the mud and support him for PDP to win in Ogun State.