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Oyinlola to Appeal Removal Amidst Conflicting Reports on Party’s Stance

Plans are reportedly afoot by the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to appeal the sack of its National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who was removed from office on Friday by the ruling of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, yet there are also reports that a section of the party’s leadership is happy with the judgement and already searching for his replacement.

Delivering judgment in a suit filed by PDP’s Ogun State Executive Committee, Justice Abdul Kafarati had voided Oyinlola’s nomination as candidate of the South West Zonal Chapter and his election to the office of National Secretary last March.

But the party’s National Legal Adviser, Mr. Victor Kwon then revealed the party’s intention to appeal on Monday and file a stay of execution.

“The appeal will be filed on Monday, Kwon said. “We will also file an application for stay of execution same day. We are surprised at the decision in the light of the evidence presented to the court that the National Secretary position was zoned to members of the party from the South West geopolitical zone of the country and NOT to the South West Zonal chapter/congress and that the 21st March 2012 South West Zonal congress did not nominate Oyinlola for the position, and also that he stood the election at the National Convention alongside other members of the party from the zone without any mention of the South West Zonal congress in issue.”

The displaced former Osun State governor has himself initiated a fight-back, already filing an appeal against the judgment and seeking a stay of execution of the judgment.

Speaking through Mr. Ayo Olaiya, his media aide, Oyinlola expressed disagreements with arguments that he should accept the judgement, saying National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, is also a product of the same zonal congress that has been used to orchestrate his removal.

“The argument of Oyinlola is that he was not a product of any zonal congress. So his nomination is not illegal. Oyinlola said he emerged at the National Convention after other contestants had publicly stepped down for him,” Olaiya said.

“He said at the South-West Congress in Osogbo, the only candidate endorsed was the National Vice-Chairman (South-West) of the PDP, Mr. Segun Oni. He said the application before the Federal High Court was baseless, an abuse of court process and ought not to have been entertained at all in the first instance.”

Speaking further on reports of pressure within the party on him to vacate the office, Olaiya said: “There is nothing like that. Nobody in the party, including National Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, has asked Oyinlola to leave office. Oyinlola will not vacate his seat and any move to make him do so will be subjudice given the appeal already filed.

“Tukur or anybody could not have spoken to Oyinlola. All NWC members, except Tukur, emerged at the National Convention of the party, not at the zonal congress. If you can recall very well, Tukur was actually defeated by a former National Secretary of PDP, Babayo Shehu, at the North-East Congress before President Goodluck Jonathan and other leaders prevailed on Shehu to step down for him.

“So, if there is any issue about zonal congress, it will affect Tukur more than any member of the NWC because he emerged contrary to the decision of the zonal congress. Therefore, if they are holding on to the so-called claim of zonal congress, whatever affects Oyinlola will weigh heavily on Tukur. That is why Tukur or anybody in NWC cannot ask Oyinlola to leave office.”

Still reports persist that part members are already shopping for Oyinlola’s replacement, and the names being bandied about include former Transport Minister, Chief Ebenezer Babatope; former National Publicity Secretary of the extinct Social Democratic Party (SDP), Chief Ishola Filani; and National Vice Chairman (South West), Chief Segun Oni.

According to a member of the National Working Committee, a section of the party leadership believes Oyinlola should obey the court order and relinquish office until he is able to secure a stay.

He also confirmed reports that both President Goodluck Jonathan and Alhaji Bamanga Tukur were happy with the court’s judgement, as Oyinlola’s grip on the secretariat is considered to be against their 2015 interests.