WE DIDN'T IGNORE COURT ORDER ON BAYELSA -ALKALI, PDP NATIONAL PUBLICITY SCRIBE
The Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) has denied that it ignored court order, asking it not to conduct the party's governorship primary conducted in Yenogoa, the Bayelsa State capital, penultimate Saturday.
At an interactive session with journalists a fortnight ago, the duo of Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali and Chief Olusola Oke, National Publicity Secretary and National Legal Adviser, respectively of the PDP, justified the party's conduct of the primary, submitting that the court order was not valid as there was no enrolment of order.
''Processes without an order of substituted services couldn't have been valid without an enrolment of order. Pasting without an order of court for substituted service couldn't amount to an order of court. Processes that were pasted to the party gate without an order of substitution could not have been considered service on the PDP,' they contended.
You said the party never planned to impose candidate on the people of Bayelsa; I am aware that some aspirants, who were cleared wrote a petition, claiming that there was no ward congresses and the party hasn't done anything on that.
Secondly, PDP has the practice of giving reasons for not clearing aspirants; why has it been difficult for the party to give reasons for non clearance of those who weren't cleared for the Bayelsa primary?
Finally, you talked about party constitution as supreme. Some Nigerians would want to question that when Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo resigned as national chairman of the party, he was replaced with someone from the North-east even when your constitution says the person to take over should be from his zone.
But just as election was coming in Bayelsa, the party suddenly woke up and realised that the chairman of the party wasn't supposed to be on the seat and you replaced him with somebody from the zone of the man that resigned.Could you reconcile the conygadictions?
Thank you very much. On the complaints by contestants, I want to let you know that when you have a party as big as the PDP, everybody wants to be there because that's where they believe they can make an impact and serve their people, Therefore, if you have as many people who are contesting for the same seat, it is only one person that can be the governor of Bayelsa State at one time.
Therefore, the party has a constitution and guidelines for conducting primaries and it is also guided by the Nigerian constitution, the Electoral Act and it is the sum total of all these that have to put in place to ensure that by the time you are screened out, everybody has been given a chance.
But we always get some complaints and they are very difficult to be thrown away; the party will continue to listen to them and that's the normal thing and that's the only way to reconcile because if people complain and you don't listen to them, then you cannot reconcile.
But there are other political parties, you don't even hear about congresses and they are still there on the party list of INEC. So, don't compare them with us and we have an herculean task to make sure that we carry everybody along and give everybody a fair chance and that's the process. It is very difficult but it has to be done.
The issue of clearance also, I am sure, virtually every aspirant who stood for election, who was screened and who also had an appeal must have heard why he was screened out. But we respect our members, we respect our leaders who aspired to lead our states. So, it isn't for us to go to the market and begin to advertise the reasons and I believe everybody knows why he was screened out; if he doesn't know, I believe by the time he comes to the party, we will tell him because we still want to carry them along. They are our people, we aren't fighting them, we are all members, highly placed members.
So, it isn't for us to go to the market and begin to castigate people, because of primary, of course we know that after the primary we need everybody to work as a team to support the candidate and support the party.
On replacement for Dr. Nwodo, the man who asked the question was mixing issues. Besides, this matter has been raised before and I don't want to talk about it again. The issue about whether INEC was in Yenogoa or not, I am not aware that they weren't there.
Sir, in view of the position of Governor Sylva of Bayelsa State that the party hasn't informed him of the reasons for excluding him and the fact that the acting national chairman of the party told reporters yesterday at the presidential villa that the party gave Sylva the reasons. Nigerians believe that both parties are playing cat and mouse game. Can you tell us categorically why Governor Sylva isn't qualified to contest for your party's ticket? I remember that in 2003, the NWC, under Audu Ogbeh, then had the courage to summon Governor of Anambra State to this place and said there were several petitions against the then governor: from students, market women.
Why is it that Baraje lacks the courage to do same to Sylva that you have to put him in suspense before he was disqualified?
You see, every leader has his own style. Therefore, I believe the style that was used in 2003 might have been good at that time but it doesn't mean that it must always be done that way. There are other ways of doing things. Remember also that Governor Sylva remains our governor until after the election, therefore we have great respect for him and we don't want to go into altercations with him, I don't believe that's the correct thing.
So, I believe what the national chairman has said still remains the same: that Governor Sylva knows why he was disqualified and I don't want to go into another controversy on this matter. But I insist that you shouldn't reduce it to one person, because it isn't only one person that was disqualified. The more you talk about one person, the more you raise more questions than answers.
Bayelsa is the home state of President Jonathan; what role did he play in the disqualification of Sylva? The allegation in town was that Jonathan directed the PDP NWC to do what you have done. Can you tell us, whether there was any directive from him, in respect of what took place in Bayelsa?
Maybe, you newsmen know something that I don't know. For me, I am not aware of that and I want to appeal to you to please, bring out the name of the president out of this matter. It is a party matter and the party has done its job.
We learnt that your candidate, Honourable Seriake Dickson has a case with EFCC. Is the party aware of that?
No, we are just hearing that.
Last week, you issued statement twice that the party was not aware of any paper from the court: whether a restraining order or motion on notice. At what point did the party eventually get the motion on notice? The PDP has gone to court to appeal; what's the PDP appealing, if there is no injunction?
The first question, was at what point did the PDP issue statement that no court process was received? That's correct. At the time those statements were issued, the party wasn't in receipt of any court process. Processes that were pasted to the party gate without an order of substitution could not have been considered service on the PDP. It was Friday that enrolment of order for substitution was later … in fact, it was on my request.
I called Lateef Fagbemi to ask him that the papers were publishing that processes had been served on us but that we weren't in receipt of any. Consequent on my call to him, he now forwarded a copy of the enrolled order of court, authorising the pasting of the process and that was the time effectively we took it, that we were served and we responded accordingly.
So, the earlier statements were consistent with the fact that we were contending that pasting without order of court wouldn't amount to service on the party under the rules of the court.
On whether the court of appeal decision has anything to do with the primary of January 12, 2011, the answer is yes. All our five governors went to court, primarily against the PDP, that was why the PDP was joined and INEC and the relief they were seeking was that their tenure wasn't due and, therefore, PDP ought not to conduct primary and INEC not to conduct general election and all their prayers were answered.
In the case of Bayelsa, there was a specific order asking for injunction against the PDP not to conduct the primary. So, the primary election conducted for the reasons stated in the paper was in anticipation, in case, the judgment wasn't against us so that we wouldn't fall out of time and it was conducted during the pendency of those cases.
So, in law it was void and when the court finally ordered that those elections: that is, the primary and the general elections weren't due, we had no option but to conduct a fresh primary election to pick our candidate. So, that judgment affected the primary. That's our position.
The other question is that the PDP was claiming no order of injunction, yet we have appealed to the Court of Appeal. What were we appealing against? You will recall that when we filed our return in compliance with the order of court that we should show cause the fundamental reason we raised was that the court has no jurisdiction to entertain the claim.
So, our appeal is against the order of court, asking us to show cause.
If you have no jurisdiction, you will not even have jurisdiction to ask us to come and show cause. Asking us to show cause implies that you have jurisdiction over the case. We have appealed against that.
There was also an aspect of the order which was warning the PDP in the event that we are unable to show cause or that anything was done before the return date. We felt that, that was also prejudging the matter; it was pre-empting the PDP and it was prejudicial to whatever the defense. It gives the impression that its lordship, has with greatest respect, a mindset against whatever the party might do and we felt it will not be safe having been given such warning to go before the same judge for a determination of whether we are right or wrong.
So, those were the two platforms on which we premised our appeal and some of you who were in court today would also observed that it didn't take the court and the counsel on the other side to understand our plight to concede that the matter should be adjourned sine die and we should wait for the outcome of the case at the court of appeal. That's the position.
'We respect our members, we respect our leaders who aspired to lead our states. So, it isn't for us to go to the market and begin to advertise the reasons and I believe everybody knows why he was screened out; if he doesn't know, I believe by the time he comes to the party, we will tell him because we still want to carry them along. We were contending that pasting without order of court wouldn't amount to service on the party under the rules of the court.'