Tunde Olanrewaju, Abeokuta
Fresh moves to unseat financier of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State, Prince Buruji Kashamu, as Leader and curtail his activities within the party, appear to have gathered steam with a letter by a concerned group to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) challenging the electoral body for giving recognition to only one of the four PDP factions in the state.
Until a controversial legal victory gave recognition to Omo Ilu Group shortly before the 2011 general elections, there were four factions of the PDP in Ogun State. Omo Ilu faction, funded by Kashamu, existed alongside those of former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; and former Minister of Commerce, Senator Jubril Martins-Kuye.
Daniel’s group fused into the now moribund Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) under which all his loyalists seeking elective offices contested during the 2011 general elections. But Obasanjo’s and JMK’s collapsed into the recognized Omo Ilu faction with only one PDP in existence in Ogun State at the time. Disquiet after the elections arising from nominees for ministerial and other federal positions soon forced the groups apart with Omo Ilu members largely remaining behind in the officially recognized PDP in Ogun State.
Currently, the three factions loyal to Obasanjo, Daniel and JMK under the umbrella of Concerned Members and Stakeholders of the PDP in Ogun State, are alleging that INEC has compromised in its official duties as only the Omo Ilu faction, with Engr. Bayo Dayo as chairman, is being given recognition to the detriment of others by the electoral body.
The factions, in a letter written by its counsel, Gani Bello and Co, dated 14th February, 2014,
made available to newsmen on Tuesday, reacted to a reply by INEC Secretary, Abdullahi Kaugama, on the situation report on the state PDP crisis sent in August 2012 to the Commission’s Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, by the Legal Officer of the electoral body in Ogun State, Mr. B.O. Ogunbona.
The factions in the letter, copied to President Goodluck Jonathan and Jega, accused the electoral body of pitching its tent with the Kashamu faction. The Concerned Ogun PDP Stakeholders said the commission by its stance, has failed in its responsibility as the “main referee and umpire for party primaries.”
In the five-page notice to the INEC boss, the legal firm claiming to be solicitors to Omotolu Ladega and Alhaji Kayode Mustapha, on behalf of the three factions identified the two chieftains of the party as the “accredited representatives of the concerned members” of the party in the state. The stakeholders threatened to seek legal redress against the commission if it failed within 21 days to withdraw the recognition accorded the state executive being financed by Kashamu.
The legal notice which, indicated receipt by the office of the INEC chairman on February , 2014 read thus, “Our clients by their instruction hereby employ this medium to register their objection and protest the seemingly ignoble and parochial robe that INEC has chosen to wear in Ogun State.
“The letter dated 31/08/12 (hereinafter called the attached letter) written to you by your own Ogun State INEC Legal Officer, if truly authored by your commission has in the opinion of our clients thoroughly broken your myth of unbiased arbiter.
“Our clients wonder how your commission has now come to know by names, particulars, personalities and activities of the different factions in Ogun State PDP. We understand that rather than bother yourself with the upcoming 2015 elections, your Commission is engaged in the old history of how in 2008 Governor Gbenga Daniel (OGD) and his group circumvented the democratic process to keep his loyalists in the executive committee of the party so that only aspirants anointed by him emerged as party candidates.
“Your Commission has obviously embarked on a wondrous frolic and a journey of no return! We are instructed that what is embarrassing in your attached letter was the open adoration and embrace of a group or faction that installed the Bashorun Dayo Soremi-led Executive whilst pouring invectives, vituperation and condemnation on other groups, particularly the group that allegedly installed the Joju Fadairo-led Executive.
“The overall concern of our clients is that with the role being played by your Commission in Ogun State PDP as exemplified in the attached letter, it is almost certain that you have virtually abandoned your constitutional responsibility as the main referee and umpire for party primaries.
“Right now the Dayo Soremi/Adebayo Dayo group has been laying claim on your letter under reference as their authority for being the only group in Ogun State PDP recognized by INEC. This, in the opinion of our clients is not acceptable.
“In fact, the Ogun State INEC as presently constituted is not in a position to conduct or observe true and fair primaries in Ogun State PDP. The only way of redemption open to your commission is to assure our clients that the letter under reference has been discountenanced and consigned into dustbin.”