The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Wednesday rallied round its embattled National Secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, as it filed an application asking a Federal High Court in Abuja, which had last Friday sacked him, for a stay of execution of the judgment.
The application, filed by the party's lawyer, Kwon Victory, was premised on Order 32, Rules 1,2&4(1), Order 56 Rule 1 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules and Section 36(1) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
Oyinlola's removal and his subsequent replacement by his deputy, Mr. Onwe Onwe, as acting national secretary, has further deepened the crisis in the party.
The crisis has polarised PDP governors with some of them backing the party's National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, whom they had previously being working to oust.
However, Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, denied reports that the governors were against Tukur, saying there was no plot to remove the party chairman.
In the application filed before the Federal High Court, the party asked for an order of injunction restraining the beneficiary of the judgment from giving effect to, or otherwise seeking the enforcement of the judgment delivered on January 11, pending the hearing and determination of the party's appeal before the Court of Appeal.
The party also wants an order of stay of execution pending the appeal of all orders of the court granted by way of reliefs contained in the judgment of the court, pending the determination of the party's appeal before the Court of Appeal.
The appellant said the appeal raised substantial and arguable issues of law, which were recondite.
It further submitted that by Order 32 rules 1,2&4(1) and Order 56 rule 1 of the Federal High Court rules, 2009, the court was empowered to stay the execution of all orders of the court granted by a way of reliefs contained in the January 11 judgment.
Also, the party submitted that granting of the application would ensure that its appeal was not rendered nugatory and a situation of helplessness would not be foisted on the Court of Appeal.
It added that the refusal of the application would make it difficult to return to the status quo if the appeal succeeded.
Oyinlola had already lodged an appeal before the Court of Appeal in Abuja in which he said the judgment was against the weight of evidence.
He further said that the trial judge erred in law when he overruled the preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court, which assumed jurisdiction and delivered judgment.
He, therefore, asked the court for an order reversing the judgment of the trial judge and substituting thereto an order striking out and or dismissing the entire action with costs.
Oyinlola's removal by the court and the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP, however, has caused sharp divisions among the party's governors who were previously united against the party's national chairman.
The legal battle over Oyinlola's position seemed to have proved to be a turning point in the anti-Tukur campaign by the PDP governors.
The governors, who have been united on getting their ways since the crisis arising from the power tussle in the Adamawa State chapter of the party began, have broken into two camps - pro and anti-Tukur.
As such, some of their Northern colleagues, led by Bauchi State Governor, Mallam Isa Yuguda, have started to rally support for Tukur.
The division among the governors forced them to cancel, at the last minute, a planned meeting slated for Abuja Wednesday in what a PDP governor from the North-central described as "a sign of division among us".
THISDAY gathered that the governors were scheduled to meet to discuss the outcome of Justice Abdul Kafarati's order that sacked Oyinlola and Onwe's subsequent appointment as the acting national secretary of the party.
It was further gathered that due to the reaction of some Northern governors to the meeting, the planned gathering was called off to enable the governors strategise on the next line of action to take.
Some of the governors are expected to be in Ogun State where a reception is being planned for former President Olusegun Obasanjo and would seize the occasion to brainstorm on the way forward.
"After the meeting in Ogun State, we expect to see moves that will compel some of us to decide whether to follow or continue to stay aloof," a source stated.
It was also gathered that Tukur had started lobbying some governors, especially those from his North-east zone, to come to his rescue.
In this regard, he met with Yuguda at his Wuse residence on how the governors could intervene to foil the plot. The meeting was said to have been facilitated by one of Tukur's special advisers.
The source said after the meeting, Yuguda started reaching out to other governors that are considered friendly to rally round the national chairman.
Yuguda, it was gathered, is rallying friendly governors such as those of Gombe, Ebonyi, Abia, Plateau, Kwara and Akwa Ibom States to ensure that any negative plot against the national chairman is thwarted. Also, a new supporter of Tukur's cause is the Kaduna State Governor, Alhaji Ramalan Yero.
THISDAY gathered that the arrowhead of the anti-Tukur force among the governors is a governor from the North-central zone who has the support of some of his colleagues from the North-west.
The campaign by the pro-Tukur governors is anchored on concerns that his removal would translate to the North-east zone losing the post, as his deputy, Dr. Sam Sam Jaja from Rivers State, would take over in acting capacity, pending the election of a new chairman.
According to a North-east governor that spoke to THISDAY, "Though there are some misgivings by some of us against the national chairman, Alhaji Bamanga, but the politics of survival does not make it positive for his removal.
"You can see that from Oyinlola's ouster as the national secretary and Onwe's assumption as acting national secretary, any action taken against the national chairman will automatically mean the handing over of the party to the South-east and South-south zones.
"The acting national secretary is from Ebonyi State. He is from the South-east; and if Tukur is removed, as some people are suggesting, then the deputy national chairman will succeed him, pending when an emergency national convention is held to elect a new national chairman.
"So if we go with some of the suggestions, then we shall be handing over PDP to the South-south and South-east."
However, the Delta State governor Wednesday dismissed the notion that the PDP governors were against Tukur, stating that there was no intention to remove him.
Uduaghan, who spoke in Asaba while addressing journalists, said Tukur is a father figure in the party and that issues in the party were being overblown by some interest groups.
"There was no time that the governors sat to contemplate moving against the national chairman. Alhaji Bamanga Tukur is important to our party. He is an elder statesman and we have a lot of respect for him. The so-called war in PDP is imaginary rather than being real.
"Whatever is being published in the media is probably being pushed by some interests in Abuja," he said.
On the issue of the sack of the Kugama-led executive council of PDP in Adamawa State, Uduaghan said the governors merely endorsed the decision of the NWC of the party to reinstate the executive that it had earlier dissolved.
On the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) before the National Assembly, Uduaghan said it would be in the interest of the country for the bill to be passed.
He noted that at the peak of militancy in the Niger Delta region, Nigeria's daily oil output dropped to about 700,000 barrels per day, adding that with peace in the region, output had risen to above 2.2 million bpd.
He therefore cautioned the legislators not to do anything that would return the region to its turbulent past.
However, in a bid to resolve the festering crisis in the ruling party, Tukur has initiated fence-mending moves to placate members of the party in the South-west zone following Oyinlola's removal.
The latest measure, which was disclosed Wednesday by Mr. Tajudeen Kareem on behalf of the Tukur Media strategy team, is said to be in compliance with the advice of the NWC.
Kareem said that the party was determined to adhere to its original zoning arrangement and wants to ensure that the post of national secretary returns to the South-west as soon as possible.
"Tukur yesterday (Tuesday) began contacting founding fathers, elders, former party executives and critical stakeholders. I can confirm to you that the chairman early in the morning drew a long list of PDP stakeholders.
"He also obtained their phone numbers and promised to speak with all of them before night fall," he said.
He disclosed that on the chairman's list of critical PDP stakeholders in the zone are Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Bode George, Chief Dapo Sarumi, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, Mr. Segun Oni, Chief Bode Olajumoke and Chief Oyewole Fashawe.
Others include Alhaji Shuaib Oyedokun, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, Alhaji Tajudeen Oladipo, Chief Yekeen Adeojo, Chief Lekan Balogun, Chief Richard Akinjide, Chief Tunji Olurin and Chief Joju Fadairo.
"His message is to re-assure the South-west that Oyinlola's removal should be regarded as a temporary setback and that the party had no choice but to abide with the pronouncement of the court," he noted.
The media strategist continued: "He also emphasised the need to unite all factions, enthrone fairness and equity in preparing for future electoral success.
"Consultations with leaders of the zone will continue on Saturday in Abeokuta where Tukur will preside as chairman at a civic reception for Obasanjo being organised by the South-west zone of the party."