AT the last count, three different courts in three different states have handed out three different orders on Uche Secondus’ position as national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The court orders were delivered within a period of just five days – from August 23 to 27.
The number of courts and orders is likely to keep increasing, going by Secondus’ determination to remain in office until December, the original date of the party’s national convention, where he intends to seek reelection for a second term.
The PDP National Executive Committee (NEC) has resolved to move the national convention forward, to October, and Secondus’ opponents, backed by Rivers State governor Nyesom Wike, are equally determined to make sure that the embattled national chairman does not get the chance to seek reelection at the convention.
As it stands, the court orders are two against Secondus, and one for him.
* The court orders
The first court order came on August 23 when a Rivers State High Court presided by Justice O. Gbasam granted an interim injunction restraining Secondus from parading himself as the chairman and a member of the PDP.
The order followed an ex parte application in suit No: PHC/2183/CS/2021 filed by Ibeabuchi Ernest Alex, Dennis Nna Amadi, Emmanuel Stephen and Umezirike Onucha against Uche Secondus (1st defendant) and the PDP (2nd defendant).
The court also ordered Secondus to refrain from calling, attending or presiding over any meeting of the PDP, or any committee of the party at the ward, local government or state level or calling for any ward, local government or state congress of the party.
Secondus was also restrained from setting up committees for congresses or participating in any activity of the PDP whatsoever whilst on suspension, pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
A second court order came on August 26. In a ruling which upturned the earlier pronouncement by the Rivers State High Court. A state high court in Kebbi State ordered Secondus to return to his position as the national chairman of the PDP.
The Kebbi State High Court presided by Justice Nusirat Umar gave the order while ruling on an application filed by three concerned members of the PDP – Yahaya Usman, Abubakar Mohammed and Bashar Suleman – in a suit numbered KB/AC/M. 170/2021.
The judge said she was satisfied that an interim order should be granted to overturn Secondus’ suspension.
The court, sitting in Birnin Kebbi, granted leave to Secondus “to continue exercising all the constitutional powers of the office of Chairman of PDP as enshrined in both 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended and the Peoples Democratic Party’s constitution” pending the hearing and final determination of the motion on notice.
The third court order, issued by a Cross Rivers State High Court on August 27, overturned Secondus’ reinstatement by the Kebbi State High Court.
Just hours before Secondus was billed to preside over a meeting of the PDP NEC, the Cross River State High Court sitting in Calabar barred him from returning to office as the national chairman of the party.
The court presided by Justice Edem Kooffreh granted the interim order while ruling on a motion ex parte filed by Enang Wani against Secondus and the PDP.
Ruling on the ex parte application numbered HC/240/2021, the judge granted an order of interim injunction restraining Secondus from assuming the office of the national chairman of the PDP while seeking reelection, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
Secondus was also barred from presiding over any meeting of the party until the motion was heard.
In the same vein, the court restrained Secondus from attending the meetings of any organ of the PDP in the capacity of national chairman.
Secondus was also restrained from attempting to forcefully gain entrance into any meeting or into the premises of the party as national chairman pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
The PDP was equally restrained from recognising or granting Secondus the powers due to the office of the national chairman until the final determination of the suit which was adjourned till September 7 for hearing.
* Secondus insists his tenure ends in December, not October
In Secondus’ court-enforced absence, the party’s Deputy National Chairman (South) Yemi Akinwonmi, who has been named acting national chairman, chaired caucus and NEC meetings on August 27 and 28.
The development led to speculations that Secondus had stepped down from the position of national chairman.
But in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media Ike Abonyi on August 28, Secondus made it clear that his tenure would not end in October when the party planned to elect new national officers at a national convention.
The PDP NEC had, at the meeting on August 28, approved the recommendation of stakeholders, including the PDP Governors Forum (PGF) and the Board of Trustees (BOT), that the National Elective Convention be held on October 31. The NEC also resolved that the convention would hold in Abuja.
In the August 28 statement titled ‘Secondus has not stepped down, just obeying Calabar court interim order,’ Secondus stressed that going by his mandate as national chairman, his tenure would end in December and not October.
The statement read, “The media office of Prince Uche Secondus wishes to correct erroneous news circulating that he has stepped down as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party.
“Prince Secondus, by his unavoidable absence at the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on Saturday (August 28), was merely obeying an interim order from Cross River State High Court. As a law-abiding citizen, who has been an adherent of the rule of law as a basis for democracy, he stayed away out of respect for the courts.
“Prince Secondus’ four-year mandate to lead the party, given on December 10, 2017, ends by December 2021.
“By this release, media office wishes to urge media houses and members of the public, particularly beloved members of PDP, to disregard any news suggesting that he has stepped down.”
* PDP sets up committee for withdrawal of court cases
Meanwhile, the PDP, at its caucus meeting on August 27, mandated an eight-man committee chaired by former Senate President David Mark to work towards the withdrawal of all pending court cases relating to the leadership crisis in the party.
According to the resolutions of the caucus meeting, which were announced by Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum and Sokoto State governor Aminu Tambuwal, the move to withdraw the pending court cases was aimed at ensuring that normalcy returned to the party.