A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday ordered that three leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ogun State be remanded for six months in prison for their continued violation of an order contained in a May 2, 2012 judgment of the court. The development added a new twist to the crisis within the party in the state.
The three contemnors are Chief Ireti Oniyide; former Deputy Governorship candidate of the party in the state in 2011, Tunde Oladunjoye (now media aide to Agriculture Minister, Akin Adesina); and a former member of the state House of Assembly, Fasiu Bakenne, who claims to be a principal officer of a Caretaker Committee of the party in the state.
Justice Charles Archibong, made the order committing the contemnors to prison in a ruling on the contempt proceedings initiated against them and the state’s Independent Electoral Commission and its officials, by Chief Adebayo Dayo and Alhaji Semiu Sodipo for themselves and on behalf of the Ogun State Executive Committee of the PDP. However, unlike the PDP leaders who had failed to appear in court to face the contempt allegation despite service of necessary court papers on them, the OGSIEC officials attended the proceedings.
The OGSIEC officials are Alhaja Risikat Ogunfemi, Alhaji Korede Lawal, Alhaji Bisiyu Adekanmi, Mutiu Agboke, Oyediran Aina, Kolawole Odesanya and Adetokunbo Williams, who were all described as the moving minds of OGSIEC. The judge refrained from making any order against the officials of OGSIEC on the grounds that the agency and its officials were not parties in the substantive suit. The plaintiffs had accused the OGSIEC officials of flouting the court order contained in the said judgment by accepting lists of PDP’s candidates for the planned July 21 local government election from other sources other than the Dayo-led exco.
The court held that the three contemnors, being agents of the PDP, had been continually subverting the order of court by dealing with the party through other bodies aside the Dayo-led executive committee. The court had declared that the Dayo-led executive committee was the valid management body of the party in the May 2 judgment.
Archibong said the court’s decisions should not be interpreted to mean obstructing electoral process in the state, adding that the forthcoming local government election in the state was part of the main anchor of the dispute between the parties in the substantive suit. The court, had in its May 2 judgment, ordered the PDP, its National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, and National Secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, not to deal with the party in Ogun State except through the Dayo-led executive committee.
The court also restrained the PDP leaders from taking any step to prevent the officers that emerged from the congresses conducted by the Soremi faction from concluding their four-year term as allowed by the constitution.