Ahead of the National Executive Meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, where the fate of the embattled chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, may be decided, one of the lawyers to the party, Mr. Ajibola Oluyede has written to President Goodluck Jonathan reminding him the position of the court on the purported plan to remove Tukur.
Members of the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party had last weekend passed a vote of no confidence on Tukur, warning that PDP would lose in 2015 if it allowed the embattled chairman to lead it to the election.
However, Oluyede in his letter to Jonathan dated January 13, 2014, stated that Tukur cannot be removed based on a subsisting valid court order of a Federal High Court, Abuja, that was issued on April 25, 2013.
Oluyede in the letter to the President as the leader of PDP said he filed a suit on behalf of the PDP against the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, where Justice Adamu Bello had ordered parties to maintain status quo by not taking actions that would lead to the removal of the then national officers.
The party had gone to the court for a declaration that the tenure of the National Officers elected at the 2012 National Convention could not be truncated.
This was after the INEC alleged irregularity in the election saying that the nominations of the officers who were returned unopposed at the 2012 convention were invalid because they were affirmed by voice votes instead of “open secret ballot.”
According to Oluyede, he wrote the letter to Jonathan because he was the constitutional leader of the PDP and would therefore attended the BoT meeting where the plan to remove Tukur was hatched.
The letter read in part, “My attention has been drawn to reported proceedings of the BoT of the PDP, which culminated in the decision to remove Dr. Bamanga Tukur from the position of Chairman of the party.
“This removal is to be achieved either by pressurising him to resign or by some vote of lack of confidence to be procured against him at a planned NWC meeting of the PDP.
“This letter is addressed to you because you are the constitutional leader of the PDP and it was reported that you were in attendance at the BoT meeting.
“That order is still subsisting, valid and binding on the PDP and INEC till date and especially as at the time the BoT meeting decided to procure the removal of Dr. Bamanga Tukur.
“The position of Nigerian law is that anyone, though not directly bound by an order of court, who aids or abets the negation of such an order is liable for criminal contempt and all contemptuous actions taken by contemnors are null and void and liable to be set aside by the court.
“In the circumstance, we find that the deliberation by the BoT on a plan to remove the National Chairman of the PDP and the decisions and resolutions reached at that meeting are null and void and anything built on it will be equally null and void.
“More importantly, we must point out that INEC, which is a party to the proceedings in which the order was made, cannot recognize any new appointment or installation of a replacement for Tukur arising from the decision taken at the said BoT meeting or that of any other organ of the party during the subsistence of the order for status quo.
“This would mean that any nomination forms submitted or signed by such a replacement would be equally null and void. The ramifications of this chain of illegalities are easy to imagine.
“We have written, inter alia, to draw your attention to the taint this illegal process could be on an otherwise legitimate nomination process for the candidates of the PDP at the forthcoming general elections.
“This can be avoided now by mere attention to detail and compliance with due process.
“Due process in the circumstances dictates that any legitimate demand for the termination of Dr. Tukur’s tenure as National Chairman of the PDP be subjected to the procedure and processes prescribed by the constitution of the party for removal, only after the court has determined the pending action or otherwise vacated the subsisting order aforementioned,” he stated.