Court orders PDP, INEC to delete Oyinlola's name

By The Citizen
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The quest for a solution to the festering crisis besetting the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party came under threat on Friday as an Abuja Federal High Court ordered the ruling party to replace the embattled former National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, with Prof. Wale Oladipo.

In a ruling on an application filed by Ogun State PDP, the Justice Abdul Kafarati-led court ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission and the PDP to replace the name of Oyinlola as national secretary within three days.

Oyinlola, PDP and INEC were listed as the defendants in the suit.

The order by the court followed a January 11, 2013 judgment in which the Abuja FHC sacked Oyinlola as PDP National Secretary.

Justice Kafarati had in the January 11, 2013 judgment, ordered INEC to rectify the records of the PDP by deleting Oyinlola's name as the party's National Secretary and replace him with a candidate nominated at a valid South-West zonal congress of the party.

The court ordered that the South-West zonal congress must be conducted within 21 days from the January 11 judgment.

However, the South-West PDP failed to meet the 21-day deadline when it conducted a zonal congress in Ibadan on July 13, 2013, where Oladipo emerged as Oyinlola's replacement for the office of the party's National Secretary.

As a result of the development, the Ogun State PDP, led by its Chairman, Chief Adebayo Dayo, and Secretary, Alhaji Semiu Sodipo, approached the Abuja FHC with another application, asking the court to extend the 21-day period stipulated in the January 11 judgment for selection of Oyinlola's replacement at a valid congress of the South-West zone.

The plaintiffs also asked the court to make an order deeming Oladipo's nomination by the extra-ordinary South-West Zonal Congress on July 13, 2013 as proper and in due compliance with the January 11 judgment.

In the same vein, they asked the court to order the PDP and INEC to, within three days, reflect the replacement of Oyinlola's name with that of Oladipo as the party's National Secretary.

Oyinlola had opposed the application, arguing that the court should not reopen the matter - having earlier delivered a judgment in the same matter.

Also, the embattled former Military Administrator of Lagos State maintained that the court could no longer consider the application because he had already filed an appeal against the January 11 judgment, which sacked him from office.

Oyinlola noted that the application would affect the appeal.

But Justice Kafarati, in his ruling, dismissed the objections raised by Oyinlola.

He held that, in granting the orders sought by the plaintiffs, the court did not mean to effect changes in the January 11 judgment, rather, he maintained that it was meant to regularise the steps taken in compliance with the judgment.

The judge further held that the application would have no effect on the judgment and the appeal filed by Oyinlola.

However, Justice Kafarati, in the same vein, noted that there was no evidence before the court that Oyinlola's appeal had been transmitted to the Court of Appeal.

According to him, the mere filing of a notice of appeal does not serve as a ground to stay proceedings.

He, therefore, granted the application, and ordered PDP and INEC to reflect the replacement of Oyinlola's name with that of Oladipo as PDP National Secretary within three days.

After the court had delivered the ruling, counsel to the plaintiffs, Babs Akinwunmi, attempted to move a motion ex-parte, seeking leave for substituted service of court documents relating to a pending contempt case on Oyinlola, the chairman of the New PDP, Abubakar Baraje, and a chieftain of the party, Sam Jaja.

The plaintiffs, in the pending contempt case, had asked the court to commit Oyinlola, Baraje and Jaja to prison for one year for allegedly flouting the orders of the court as contained in the January 11 judgment.

Akinwunmi had told the court that the plaintiffs had made unsuccessful attempts to effect personal service of the court processes on Oyinlola and the two others.

But Justice Kafarati refused to hear the ex-parte motion, and instead, advised the plaintiffs to file an affidavit indicating the failed attempts they had made to serve the defendants.