The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has pulled out the rug from the feet of the Abubakar Kawu Baraje-led faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP): it refused to recognise the new PDP.
INEC had dropped the bombshell in a letter to the Baraje faction dated October 3, declining the faction's application seeking to be recognised as the authentic leadership of the PDP. The regulatory body insisted that the Alhaji Bamanga Tukur-led executive remains the authentic leadership of the PDP.
According to the letter by INEC with reference number INEC /LEG/PDP/19/111.25 and signed by U.F Usuman, acting secretary of the commission, the leadership of Tukur remains the authentic leadership of the National Working Committee (NWC), adding that it will not withdraw its recognition of leadership of the PDP elected at the election duly monitored by the commission.
The letter entitled "Notification of Change in the Leadership of PDP and Request for Formal Recognition" and addressed to the national secretary of the new PDP, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, reads in part: " The Commission acknowledges the receipt of your letter dated September 1 and 23, 2013 respectively wherein you requested the commission's recognition of the Abubakar Baraje faction of the newly-elected National Working Committee (NWC).
"You will recall the commission monitored the national convention and the special national convention of the PDP held on March 12, 2012 and August 31, 2013 respectively which took place at the Eagle Square, Abuja, after notices to the commission. A National Working Committee was elected at the two conventions with Alhaji Bamanga Tukur as the national chairman.
"The commission will not withdraw recognition from the leadership of the PDP elected at the election duly monitored by the commission. Please be guided."
When contacted by LEADERSHIP Friday over the development, the national publicity secretary of the new PDP, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, said he could not confirm the existence of such a letter until he clarified with the national secretary of the party.
He said, "Somebody has also drawn my attention to that. I am not aware of such a letter and so I cannot confirm it. I am trying to confirm from our national secretary. Immediately I do that I will get back to you."
For his part, the chief press secretary to the INEC chairman, Kayode Idowu, said although he could not immediately confirm the letter, the development was not out of tune with the position of the electoral commission.
Idowu said, "I can't confirm that letter right now, but its position is not out of tune with the position of the commission. The position of INEC on this matter is very clearly stated on its website where the list of the party's executives are posted. So what you find there is the official position of the commission. So the letter is not out of tune."
Court throws out new PDP's suit for lack of jurisdiction
A Lagos high court in Ikeja yesterday struck out a suit brought by Baraje's faction of PDP against the Tukur-led faction of the party for lack of jurisdiction.
In her ruling on a preliminary objection by the Tukur faction challenging the propriety of the Baraje suit, Justice Oludotun Adefope-Okojie held that the court lacked the jurisdiction to adjudicate on the matter on the grounds that it emanated outside its territory.
The court also held that the subject matter, course of action and residents of defendants are outside the jurisdiction of the court, saying that the court could not hear or render any decision on the suit.
The Baraje faction, also known as the new PDP, had filed the action and sought an interlocutory injunction restraining Tukur and three others from parading themselves as the PDP National Executive Committee members.
Other claimants in the suit are Dr Sam Jaja and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
The Baraje faction also named Tukur; Mr Uche Secondus, deputy national chairman; Dr Kema Chikwe, women leader; and Mr Olisa Metuh, national publicity secretary; as co -defendants to the suit.
But Tukur and other defendants had on September 18 asked the court to strike out the suit for lack of jurisdiction.
The court also held that cases that originated within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) must be heard by the courts within its territories.
According to Justice Adefope-Okojie, the applicants had averred in their affidavit that the course of action, which was the special convention of the PDP, emanated from Abuja.
The judge also noted that the claimants had also averred that the PDP had its registered office in Abuja and that none of the defendants was residing in Lagos.
She said, "The doctrine of enforcement of judgments was not relevant to the suit before the court. I hold that with the defendants not resident in Lagos and the subject matter originating in Abuja, the High Court of Lagos State has no power to assume jurisdiction over this suit."
She also maintained that jurisdiction can only be exercised in a manner prescribed by the law, adding that the course of action took place outside of its territory.
Justice Adefope-Okojie also concluded that "I have considered the subject matter and discovered that it is not within the jurisdiction of the court; the high court of Lagos has no jurisdiction to adjudicate the suits and it is accordingly struck out".
No cause for alarm over court ruling - new PDP
But the Baraje-led faction of the PDP has said there is no cause for alarm over a ruling by a Lagos high court which threw their suit seeking to Tukur and his National Working Committee (NWC) from parading themselves as national executives of the party.
Reacting to the ruling, the National Publicity Secretary, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, in a statement said "we wish to assure our teeming members and Nigerians in general that there is no cause to worry. This is because the ruling has nothing to do with the merit of the case but the place of filing. As advised by His Lordship, we shall hasten to re-file the suit, this time in Abuja, as we are convinced about the merit of our case. Our determination to sack the usurper, Alhaji Tukur, and rescue our great party from his misrule has never been stronger.
"Finally, we urge all our supporters and members not to despair or exercise any atom of fear and should continue to support the leadership of our great party under the able leadership of Alh Abubakar Kawu Baraje as we are getting closer to freeing our party from the enclave of undemocratic elements currently holding us to ransom and doing everything within their powers to ruin all that our founding fathers struggled to build.
"With today's court ruling, we are now very determined to restore PDP to the path of honour particularly now that we have lost our great first national chairman, Dr Solomon Lar, to the cold hands of death. Let us reiterate that nothing -- and we repeat nothing -- will stop us from implementing the visions of both Dr Solomon Lar and all the founding fathers of our great party to the letter and keeping all undemocratic elements at bar from leadership of our great party."