There appears to be a fresh round of crisis in Nigeria’s major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, with some elected national officers calling on the acting chairman of the board of trustees, Bello Mohammed and the national publicity secretary, Olisa Metuh, to step down from their offices.
The call, which was made in a statement signed by four of the national officers, which they also said represented the views of all deputy national officers and some members of the National Executive Committee of the party, was sequel to the ongoing trial of Messrs. Mohammed and Metuh over corruption allegations.
Messrs Metuh and Mohammed are being tried for receiving monies from the embattled former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, out of the $2.1 billion meant for arms procurement but which was diverted to political spending.
The statement, made available to Premium Times on Monday, was signed by Dennis Alonge-Niyi, the deputy national youth leader; Bashir Maidugu, the deputy national legal adviser; Okey Nnaedozie, the deputy national organizing secretary and Abdullahi Jalo, the deputy national publicity secretary.
The national officers called on all relevant members and organs of the party to rescue it “from fortune hunters who have hijacked its very soul.”
They said, “We hereby strongly dissociate the Peoples Democratic Party from the ongoing trials of Dr. Bello Halliru Mohammed ( Acting Chairman of Board of Trustees) and Chief Olisa Metuh ( National Publicity Secretary) on various charges anti graft agencies.
“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 organ of the federal government in the last regime.
“They must bear full responsibility for their actions and must henceforth refrain from dragging the name of the party into the mud.”
Step down please
The national officers also said that sequel to the wide public interest the trial of Messrs. Mohammed and Metuh has generated, they would call on the national caucus of the PDP, the BoT and the PDP Governors’ Forum “to prevail on the two accused persons to honorably step down until they clear their names thereby saving the party from further damage.”
They said their call was not a pronouncement of guilt on the two officers of the PDP, but a “passionate appeal to halt the erroneous concept that the party tolerates corruption.”
They also called on the NEC of the party to convene a meeting immediately to formalize the appointment of a new spokesperson in line with the party’s constitution.
The officers also called on the NEC not to continue with the reign of impunity, which they said characterized the PDP in the past and led it to its current position, to respect the Abuja High Court ruling of December 15 last year.
The court had in a ruling delivered in a suit filed by a former political adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Ahmed Gulak, directed the PDP acting national chairman, Uche Secondus, to step down and allow either Mr. Gulak or any qualified person from the north east to take over.
Mr. Secondus became acting chairman after Ahmadu Muazu resigned his position following the defeat of the party in the last general election.
“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 back to his constitutional position of Deputy National Chairman of the party as a matter of urgency,” they said.
The national officers also argued that in the light of the court ruling and other matters related to it, the timetable recently released by the National Working Committee, without recourse to the NEC, for the forthcoming national convention of the party should be considered null and void.
They said aside from the offices of the National Chairman, National Secretary, National Financial Secretary and the National Auditor, the national convention that produced the other national officers was held on August 30, 2013.
They said based on the four-year tenure envisaged by the constitution of the party, all the remaining officers’ tenure of office would terminate on August 30, 2017.
They also called on the NEC to order a proper audit of the finances of the PDP by certified external auditors. They said the audit period should be from March 2012 to date.
“All committees set up by the irregularly constituted national working committee should be dissolved and new committees constituted by NEC in good faith and the general interest of the party.
“Finally, we urge the National Caucus and the Board of Trustees as a matter of urgency to convene a meeting of NEC to address all these burning issues. Any further delay will exacerbate the situation,” they said.