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PDP national officers demand Metuh, others resignation


The crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) got messier yesterday as some national officers called on its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, and the Acting Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT), Dr. Mohammed Haliru Bello, to step aside pending the determination of the corruption cases instituted against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The factional officers also called on the Acting National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, to revert to his position as Deputy National Chairman in obedience to the Abuja High Court order.

The factional officers, in a statement signed on their behalf by Dennis Alonge-Niyi (Deputy National Youth Leader), Bashir Maidugu (Deputy National Legal Adviser), Okey Nnaedozie (Deputy National Organising Secretary) and Abdullahi Jalo (Deputy National Publicity Secretary), said this was not a pronouncement of guilt, but a passionate appeal to halt erroneous concept that the party tolerates corruption.

Metuh and Bello are standing trial in connection with the $2.1 billion arms purchase scandal. PDP deputy national officers, apart from the deputy national chairman and deputy national secretary, are not members of the National Working Committees (NWC). The group dissociated the PDP from the ongoing trials of Metuh and Bello by the anti-graft agency, “because the charges against them are in their individual capacities and not acting on behalf of the party.”

They called on National Caucus, the BoT and the PDP Governors’ Forum to prevail on the two accused persons to step aside until they clear their names so as to save the party from any further damage. “They are said to have received funds using accounts of their private companies without the knowledge and instructions of any organ of the party. “All those mentioned in the ongoing corruption trial are, therefore, on their own and the party was not involved financially or in anyway with the office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) or any other organ of the Federal Government in the last regime,” the statement said.

They urged the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party to convene a meeting immediately in order to formalise the appointment of a new spokesperson for the PDP in line with the party’s constitution. While expressing support for the anti-corruption war, the group appealed to the Federal Government to apply the principles of objectivity in order not to create the impression of a witch-hunt. The factional group also described as null and void, the timetable released by the NWC for the party’s congresses and national convention, which it said, was done without recourse to the National Executive Committee (NEC).

“Party members are, therefore, implored to disregard it in its entirety,” the factional officers said. According to the group, the tenure of the present NWC members, except the National Chairman, National Secretary, National Financial Secretary and the National Auditor, ends on August 30, 2017, in accordance with the PDP constitution, which gives elected party officials, a four-year tenure of office.

They based their argument on the fact that the national convention that produced the other national officers was held on August 30, 2013, when PDP held fresh elections. The group asked Secondus to revert to his former position as Deputy National Chairman, noting that it is in the interest of democracy that the Abuja High Court ruling of December 15, 2015, should be respected and implemented.

“This is a declaratory ruling where no order of stay of execution from any other court has been granted. “The NEC must do the needful by selecting a suitable national chairman from the North-East to complete their tenure in accordance with our tradition and the party’s constitution. “In pursuance of this, therefore, Prince Uche Secondus should revert to his constitutional position of deputy as a matter of urgency. “The pursuit of National Chairman of the party of any appeal against this ruling which sought to interpret our constitution was not only selfish, but inconsiderate in view of the sanctity of our zoning arrangements,” the group added. They called for the audit of the party account from March 2012 and the dissolution of all committees set up by the NWC and new committees constituted.

Meanwhile, the PDP has accused its deputy national officers of allowing themselves to be used by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to destabilise the party. Secondus, who spoke to journalists in Abuja, said the constitution of the party is clear that in the absence of the chairman, the deputy assumes his position.

“They took us to court and we have appealed. They are ignorant of the law. The constitution is clear that in the absence of chairman, the deputy assumes position,” he said. The Acting National Chairman accused the deputy national officers of malice, adding that they were “being used by the other party to destabilise us, but we aren’t going to be distracted, we are strong.” He denied that he has not assumed the office of chairman, but that he is only administering the party in acting capacity.

“They aren’t the authorised organs of the party. There is nothing like association of deputies,” he said.