ABUJA — The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, working in league with elements in the presidency has commenced moves to remove five governors who recently defected to the All Progressives Congress, APC, it emerged last night.
The move Vanguard learnt, was the outcome of deliberations by close associates of President Goodluck Jonathan who are working to weaken the opposition against a possible second term for the president.
At the centre of the move Vanguard learnt last night, is a court action aimed at removing the five governors through an exparte court order to the effect that the seats occupied by the governors belong to the party and not the governors as individuals. On obtaining the court order, it was learnt that the governors would immediately be removed from office pending the outcome of appeals that they might lodge.
The legal team to press the case is aiming to use as a precedent, the legal dispute between Governor Rotimi Amaechi and former Governor Celestine Omehia.
Gov. Nyako carpets alleged move
Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, one of the five governors who left the PDP flayed the alleged move yesterday as he accused the PDP of double standards and clear violation of the law.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, however, flatly denied the claim yesterday saying that the PDP would not want to jeopardize ongoing peace talks with the governors recently rekindled by the president.
PDP assembles legal team
However, multiple sources close to some of the governors affected confirmed the move yesterday with the assertion that the presidency and the PDP had assembled a legal team comprising 12 Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs to lead the charge. The legal team it was learnt is led by a senior SAN from the South-South. Contacted on his participation in the legal move the SAN blurted yesterday “who told you, who told you” before cutting off the phone.
Besides Governor Nyako, the other governors being targeted by the legal action include Governors Amaechi of Rivers State, Rabiu Kwankwanso, Kano; Aliyu Wamakko, Sokoto; and Abdulfatah Ahmed, Kwara.
It was learnt that the legal team was yesterday shopping for a friendly judge to give an exparte order to the motion being prepared to the effect that the seat occupied by the governors belong to the party and not to the governors as individuals. The task of the team it was learnt would be to use the Supreme Court order on which Amaechi came to power in October 2007 where the court held that it was the party that was elected into office and not Omehia. That case arose from internal dispute over the validity of the party’s candidate for the election.
Flaying the move yesterday, Governor Nyako held that the Supreme Court had laid the precedence in 2007 following the defection of Atiku Abubakar from the PDP to the former Action Congress Nigeria, ACN, that somebody elected to executive office cannot be removed on the basis of his defection.
PDP accused of double standard
Governor Nyako accused the PDP of double standards to the effect that the party had encouraged opposition party governors to defect to the PDP in the past in the knowledge that there is no legal encumbrance to such moves.
The governor who spoke through his Director of Press, Ahmad Sajo cited the case of Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State who in 2009 defected from the All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP, on whose platform he was elected to the PDP without suffering any legal injury. He also cited the case of Governor Mahmud Shinkafi of Zamfara State who left the ANPP to the PDP also without any legal obstacle.
It was also held that the PDP had ironically used the Supreme Court judgment on Atiku to defend the defection of Shinkafi and Yuguda to the PDP.
Gov. Yuguda and ANPP
“The ANPP gave him (Yuguda) a platform and when he became governor, they came around and wooed him and he changed party to PDP, they didn’t go to court. So, is it when people leave PDP that they have committed an offence, but when people leave other parties and come to PDP it is not an offence. As far as we are concerned, that is double standard and they should know that the Supreme Court has already ruled on this matter, which is the case of Atiku Abubakar and the Federal Government.
“The vice-president of the country left the PDP and went to ACN, he was taken to court for him to lose his seat as vice-president, but the Supreme Court ruled that he (Atiku) cannot lose his seat simply because he left PDP and went to ACN, and he completed his tenure as vice-president.
“They have no case, but what we are worried in this matter is the double standard. If they can condone other governors leaving their parties for the PDP, they should be prepared to accept the fact that people are going to leave their party for other parties.”
Claiming ignorance of the move yesterday, Metuh, the PDP national publicity secretary said yesterday: “I am hearing it for the first time from you. But remember that the president is discussing with the governors and the party cannot take any position until when the peace move is over and in politics, don’t rule out anything. This peace move you don’t know how it will end.
“This is the PDP, this is the biggest party in Nigeria that can accommodate all national interests, we fight for the unity of this country.”