Senator Buruji Kashamu has urged the National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party to respect the court judgment pronouncing him the party’s governorship candidate in Ogun.
Kashamu spoke with newsmen on Saturday in Lagos in reaction to a statement credited to the party’s Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbodiyan, that the PDP would only recognise Ladi Adebutu as candidate.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that both Adebutu, a member of the House of Representatives, and Kashamu had been locked in litigation over the party’s ticket as they both emerged from two parallel congresses.
But the Independent National Electoral Commission had on January 17 published the names of National Assembly candidates who belong to the Bayo Dayo-led state executive as the right PDP candidates in Ogun.
Kashamu emerged from the congress conducted by the Dayo-led group while Adebutu emerged from the congress conducted by the Sikirulai Ogundele-led faction and backed by the NWC.
Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner for Information, Media and Voter Education, had said on Wednesday in Abeokuta that the commission published candidates in Kashamu’s camp in compliance with a subsisting court judgment pronouncing them as the right candidates.
He said: “Our position is that INEC received judgment of properly constituted courts of law and we have given effect to the judgment we have.
“The judgment asked us to recognise the list of candidates submitted by a faction of PDP in Ogun State.
“We have recognised candidates submitted by that political party and we have published the names recognised by the courts.’’
Ologbodiyan, however, told newsmen in Abuja on Thursday that Adebutu remained the candidate of the party inspite of INEC’s publication of names in the Kashamu group.
He said Adebutu was duly nominated by the party and asked INEC to name Adebutu instead of Kashamu as candidate.
He said: “The PDP charges INEC Chairman to note that since the ruling of the Court of Appeal validating Adebutu as the PDP governorship candidate in Ogun State, no other court had overturned the extant ruling.
“INEC is therefore compelled to obey the law. It cannot choose to obey and cannot operate in waiting, anticipation and contemplation of a non-existent consideration in the conduct of the Ogun state governorship election.”
But reacting, Kashamu said he remained the governorship candidate of the party as declared by a Federal High Court in Abuja on January 14, insisting that the verdict was binding on the party and INEC.
He said the judgment had not been vacated by any court and that INEC had acted according to the law by recognising only the results of the congress that produced him as candidate.
Kashamu said the Court of Appeal judgment that the NWC was latching on was not about the list of candidates nor was it related to pre-election matters.
He said: “I am the lawful governorship candidate of the PDP in Ogun State for now. I am the candidate known to the law and the majority of party leaders and members.
“I am God’s candidate and the candidate of the masses.
“In a case filed by Ladi Adebutu himself, the FCT High Court on the 14th of January, 2019, held that that though the national leadership of the PDP is the right body to conduct primaries, it was done in flagrant disobedience of subsisting court judgment in our favour.
“I have all along been constrained by the commendable interventions of some of our well-informed and worthy national leaders from these embarrassing antics of the national leadership of PDP to openly challenge the supremacy of the rule of law in their handling of the Ogun State PDP matter.”
“However, Thursday’s press conference of fallacy by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP makes these clarifications unavoidable.
“It is also expedient to refer to the findings of the Court of Appeal at page12 of the judgment wherein the court held as follows:
“The action instituted at the lower court is also not in respect of selection or nomination of candidates to represent the first appellant at an election nor is it a complaint against any election decision or activity of INEC (10th respondent).
“It is in my view, simply an inter-party dispute between two factions of the party as to which of the factions is the legitimate state executive of the PDP in the state.
This appeal is therefore not in respect of any pre-election matter.
“The findings and decision of the Court of Appeal in the judgment of 18 December, 2018 clearly shows that the subject of the said appeal was neither related to pre-election issues nor the nomination of candidates to represent Ogun PDP at the election.’’
He said the party was committing an illegality by its continued support for Adebutu as well as promoting impunity.
He said: “What the NWC is doing is sending bad signals. It is clear impunity. There was a judgment and the judgment had not been set aside. On what are you claiming Adebutu is the candidate?
“They talk of guidelines. Are guidelines superior to the constitution on which the court gave a judgment in our favour?
“The people are after their pecuniary interests and that is why they are twisting everything.
“I urge our people in Ogun not to be distracted by all these they are saying. They should stay with the law and the truth, by God’s grace, we will win in the election.’’
He said Adebutu was committing clear illegality by parading himself as candidate and holding campaigns.
Kashamu expressed the hope that the disagreements in the party as well as the issues surrounding the governorship ticket would be resolved amicably or finally determined through legal means.
He said he would support PDP and work for the interests of the party at the end of the day.
On his plans for the state, Kashamu said he would bring about rapid infrastructural development of the state if elected as governor.
He added that he would grant councils in the state full financial autonomy to fast track grassroots development.
Kashamu said he was in the governorship race to disrupt the narrative of under-development and urged the people to give him the necessary support.
Also speaking, Kashamu’s running mate and a former presidential spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati, said he found it hard to believe that anybody would say Adebutu was the party’s candidate.
He said the law backed Kashamu as the genuine candidate and called on all party men to support him and Kashamu to reposition the state.