fresh crisis is brewing in the Peoples Democratic Party as some national officers of the party have called on the party’s Acting Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Alhaji Haliru Bello, and others to step down with immediate effect.
They also said the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, should also vacate office as well.
They made the call in a statement in Abuja on Monday.
The officers, who said they were acting on behalf of members of the party’s National Executive Committee, hinged their position on the corruption charges, which the two men currently face in their prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
While Bello has been released on bail, Metuh is currently being remanded at Kuje Prisons on the order of the court while his bail application is to be decided on Tuesday (tomorrow).
The statement, requesting the officers to step down, was signed by the Deputy National Youth Leader, Dennis Alonge-Niyi; Deputy National Legal Adviser, Bashir Maidugu; Deputy National Organising Secretary, Okey Nnaedozie; and Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Abdullahi Jalo.
These officers also called on the party’s Acting National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, to revert to his position as the deputy national chairman and allow the party’s caucus from the North-East to produce the substantive chairman as ordered by an Abuja High Court.
The statement argued that the sacking of the men, who are on trial for alleged fraud, was the only way to move the party forward, saying the actions and “omissions of a very few individuals, who parade themselves as leaders” were negatively impacting on the PDP.
The national officers and NEC members also called on Bello and Metuh to separate the party from their corruption cases, arguing that the duo didn’t carry the party along when they took money from the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.).
Bello is on trial for allegedly using his personal company to collect N300m from Dasuki while Metuh allegedly collected N400m from the same man.
Metuh had confessed that he collected the money, but said the amount was a payment for a job he did for former President Goodluck Jonathan, which he did not disclose.
The national officers of the party said this was one of the reasons the PDP spokesman should be allowed to carry his cross alone.
The statement reads, “In the light of this, the Deputy National Officers of the PDP along with other members of the National Executive Committee, having carefully deliberated upon and reviewed the current situation of our party, wish to state and demand as follows:
“We hereby strongly dissociate the PDP from the ongoing trials of Mohammed (Bello) and Metuh on various charges by the anti-graft agencies.
“This is because the charges against them are in their individual capacities and not acting on behalf of the party.
“They are said to have received funds using accounts of their private companies without the knowledge and instructions of any organs 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 any way with the office of the National Security Adviser or any other organ of the Federal Government in the last regime.”
The party officers submitted that the affected officers must bear full responsibility for their actions and must “henceforth refrain from dragging the name of the party through the mud.”
They said as a consequence of the wide public interest which the trials had generated, the National Caucus, the BoT and the PDP Governors Forum must prevail on the two fraud suspects to honourably step aside until they cleared their names and saved the party from further damage.
While registering the PDP’s full support for the anti corruption war of the Federal Government, the party appealed to the President to apply the principles of objectivity in order not to create the impression that the government was on a witch-hunt.
The officers urged the NEC of the party to convene a meeting immediately in order to formalise the appointment of a new spokesperson in line with the party’s constitution, saying the new spokesperson should not be one that would be weighed down by integrity issues.
On Secondus, they said it was the common interest of democracy that the Abuja High court ruling of December 15, 2015 on the national chairmanship of the party must therefore be respected and implemented.
The judgment, which they said was declaratory, and on which no order of stay of execution from any other court had been granted, orders Secondus to vacate office within 14 days.
The officials contended that the party must appoint a substantive chairman from the North-East, where the position was zoned following the resignation of its erstwhile National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu.
They added, “The NEC must do the needful by selecting a suitable national chairman from the North-East to complete the tenure in accordance with our tradition and the party’s constitution.
‘‘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 officers said there was the need for the accounts of the party to be properly audited by certified external auditors as enshrined in the party’s consitution.
Secondus, in his reaction, however, said he had appealed the judgment that sacked him from office, adding that those calling for his removal ‘‘are ignorant of the law.’’
Meanwhile, the national leadership of the PDP has asked members of the party to beware of fifth columnists in the party.
The National Secretary of the party, Prof. Wale Oladipo, stated this in a statement in Abuja on Monday.
He was reacting to the call by some national officers of the party that some members of the NWC should be removed from office.
He said, “In the same vein, we have noted the desperation of some opportunistic and selfish individuals, including those being used by the APC, to draw political capital from the present challenges facing our party.
“However, whereas the PDP remains a platform for all Nigerians to aspire, we note that our constitution is clear on the mode of election, tenure, succession in the case of vacancy and removal from office of our officers at all levels. Also the constitution and laws of our country provide that an individual remains innocent until otherwise proven by a court of competent jurisdiction.
“While we await the judicial determination of the cases involving some of our leaders at the EFCC, it is important that all party members show commitment to our rebuilding effort by ensuring utterances that encourage and unite rather than further discourage and divide our members.’’