Following the announcement on Friday, December 24, 2021, of a new acting Chairman by a faction of the Osun State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by the group loyal to former embattled Chairman, Soji Adagunodo, counsels to the Sunday Bisi led faction have reacted to the development.
The reaction was contained in a statement made available to AllNews and signed by Hashim Abioye, the secretary of the legal team led by Niyi Owolade, former Attorney General of Osun State.
Giving the background of the crisis in the statement, the party stated that;
“The erstwhile Osun PDP Chairman was removed from office by a resolution of the NWC of the Party based on the recommendation of the Disciplinary Committee set up to discipline him concerning the allegations of malfeasance, anti-party activities and financial impropriety levelled against him by some members of the Party in respect of which allegations an investigative panel was set up by the NWC which investigative panel earlier recommended his suspension from office as Osun State Chairman of PDP.
“Following his suspension from office, Hon. Sunday Akanfe Atidade was appointed as the State Chairman in an acting capacity, and when the resolution for his (Adagunodo’s) outright removal was passed by the SEC and ratified by the NWC, Hon. Sunday Bisi, being an official of the Party from the area/zone where Hon. Adagunodo comes from (that is Osun East Senatorial District) was brought in as a replacement for Hon. Adagunodo is in line with Article 49(6) of the PDP’s Constitution 2017 as amended. In other words, Hon. Sunday Bisi became the substantive Chairman of the Party in Osun State.
“It was after the confirmation of Hon. Sunday Bisi as the substantive State Chairman of the Party that Hon. Adagunodo approached the High Court of Osun State, Ikirun Division in HIK/25/2020 praying for some declaratory and injunctive reliefs the ultimate of which is his reinstatement to the position of the State Chairman of the Party in Osun. By a mandatory order of interim injunction made ex-parte on 3rd November 2020, the honourable court re-instated Hon. Adagunodo as the State Chairman of the Party and removed Hon. Sunday Bisi. On 9th November 2020, the court converted the said interim order to a preservative order pending the determination of the matter before the court.
“The PDP, Hon. Sunday Bisi, Hon. Aside and Hon. Bola Ajao who were joined as the defendants in the suit promptly appealed the said decision to the Court of Appeal sitting in Akure. By a unanimous decision of the Court of Appeal delivered on 5th March 2021 in CA/AK/349/2020, the decision of the High Court of Osun State re-instating Adagunodo as the Osun PDP Chairman was set aside and the ex-parte interim order, as well as the preservative order premised thereon, were vacated by the Court of Appeal.
“Hon. Adagunodo thereafter appealed the said decision to the Supreme Court by filing a 14-ground notice of appeal. It is important to note that the said appeal has been entered at the Supreme Court as SC/CV/305/2021, and parties have filed their respective briefs of arguments before the apex court in respect of the said appeal. It is equally important to emphasize that grounds 7 to 14 of the notice of appeal filed at the Supreme Court by Hon. Soji Adagunodo attacked the decision of the Court of Appeal setting aside not only the ex-parte interim order but also the preservative order which crystallized from the said interim order.
"While the appeal before the apex court was (and is) still pending, the substantive matter filled by Adagunodo in HIK/25/2020 proceeded before the High Court of Osun State, this time around by another judge. The Defendants in the said suit filed by Adagunodo thereafter applied for conversion of the originating summons in the suit to a writ of summons given the hostile and hotly disputed facts in the proceedings.
"His lordship heard argument on the said application and thereafter proceeded to hear the preliminary objection and the substantive suit (without delivering a ruling on the application for conversion). This prompted another appeal by the PDP and other defendants in the suit (inclusive of Hon. Sunday Bisi) to the Court of Appeal which is now pending before the Court of Appeal in CA/AK/94/2021, and based on the fact of the pendency of the appeal, the defendants in the suit applied for a stay of proceedings which His lordship graciously granted, therefore adjourning the entire proceedings in HIK/25/2020 sine die pending the determination of the appeal.
"It was after the grant of an order of stay that Hon. Wale Ojo and some others approached the Osun State High Court sitting in Ife to nullify the validly conducted and concluded ward/national delegates Congresses conducted by the Party in Osun State. The said suit was attacked by a notice of preliminary objection and the same has now been withdrawn by Hon. Wale through that same counsel of theirs who is also the counsel representing Hon. Adagunodo.
"Not done yet, Adagunodo through that same counsel surreptitiously instituted another suit against the PDP and INEC at the Osun State High Court clandestinely sitting in Ile-Ife in HIF/36/2021 in which he sought for some Declarations principal among which is that he should be recognized and all his actions are validated as the Osun PDP Chairman based on the preservative order of mandatory injunction granted by Hon. Justice S.O Falola in HIK/25/2021 pending the determination of the notice of preliminary objection, motion on notice and originating summons in HIK/25/2020. Judgment in the said suit was delivered on 22nd November 2021.
"It is to be declared at this point that the judgement in the said HIF/36/2021 only came to fore and public knowledge today the 24th December 2021 when a “Group” within the Party brandished same as giving them the authority to hold a “stakeholders’ meeting” at an unrecognised venue. It has been a hide and seeks game of the so-called Adagunodo Group all along."
Meanwhile, at an emergency meeting of the Legal Committee of Osun PDP held on December 24, 2021, a copy of the said judgment was made available and the same was thoroughly digested.
From the preliminary overview of the content of the said judgment of Honourable Justice Aderibigbe sitting at Ile-Ife, it was deduced as follows:
1. The said judgment was a judgment given in default of appearance of the defendants or their legal representatives (though, by the content of the said judgments the defendants were duly served.)
2. The reliefs in the said judgment were wholly based on a preservative order of injunction made in HIK/25/2020.
3. The said preservative order had been set aside/vacated by the Court of Appeal before filing HIF/36/21 and the setting aside forms part of the grounds of appeal filed by Adagunodo now pending before the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
4. Proceedings in HIK/25/2021 had been stayed effectively by a court of competent and co-ordinate jurisdiction before filing HIF/36/21, as such the whole of HIK/25/2021 or any part thereof cannot serve as a litigating point in any subsequent suit until the said suit is finally determined especially when there is a pending appeal in respect of same.
5. Nothing in HIF/36/2021 removed Hon. Sunday Bisi was the Osun PDP Chairman because he was not a party to that suit.
6. Nothing in the said HIF/36/2021 also pronounced Hon. Wale Ojo was the Chairman of Osun PDP in any capacity because he too was not a party to the said suit.
7. by Article 49(6) of the Constitution of PDP 2017 as amended, where there is a vacancy in any executive position of the party at any level, it is the appropriate executive committee of the party that must fill the vacancy from area/zone where the vacancy occurs.
8. That as it is today, there is no vacancy in Osun PDP Chairmanship as Hon. Sunday Bisi is the official and legitimate Chairman of the Party in Osun State.
9. That appropriate steps be taken to appeal and apply for a stay of execution of the judgement in HIF/36/2021, even though there is nothing to execute as the beneficiary of that judgment is now the Southwest Chairman of the PDP in Nigeria, and the Osun State Executive Committee of the Party has not at any time sat to declare any vacancy or pass any resolutions to that effect.
The legal team described the Adagunodo’s group as a dissident group aimed at destabilising the party ahead of next year's governorship elections.
While observing that the group was hell-bent on destabilising the party to make waste its efforts at stabilising and repositioning it for victory at the 2022 gubernatorial and general elections in 2023, the legal team appealed for calm among loyalists and members of the party in the state.
The committee also assured all executive members of the party at ward, local and state levels across the state that there is no cause for alarm and that all activities of the party be carried on without hesitation and any fear of molestation or harassment from any quarters.