By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja
There is confusion over reports that two members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have filed court papers asking for the resignation of Governor Bala Matawalle and his deputy, Mahadi Aliyu Gusau, for defecting to the All Progressives Congress (APC). The move of the members on Monday was seen as the PDP beginning its move to boot out Matawalle, at the federal high court over alleged unlawful defection.
Elsewhere, President Muhammadu Buhari Monday at State House, Abuja, praised Matawalle and Cross River Governor, Mr. Ben Ayade, for having the courage to “leave (their) constituencies.”
Following the confusion, PDP spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, insisted that Gusau was not included in the suit since he did not leave the party, and may have been behind the suit to claim what belonged to him and the party.
He promised to get back to Everyday.ng with the correct position and court documents.
However at the Presidential Villa, Matawalle and Ayade were accompanied to meet Buhari by the Chairman Caretaker Committee of the Party and Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, Gov Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State who is Chairman of Progressives Governors Forum, and Governor Muhammed Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State.
President Buhari, according a statement from his office, handed the flags of the party to the two Governors, raised their hands aloft, and declared:
“This is one of the happiest times for us in this party. For you to have the courage to leave your constituencies speak a lot. I wish Nigerians will reflect about it.
“I congratulate you for leaving your constituencies for our great party. We lost many states at the last election, which is unusual for a ruling party. But we did it to prove that we are a tolerant group. We wanted to demonstrate that we respect individuals.
“We emphasized that we respect our people. That was why we insisted on free and fair elections. Leaders should show honesty and respect for their followers.”
President Buhari added that the coming of the two Governors to APC was very important to the party, adding: “To be principled and identify your objectives is a great quality that should endear us to our people. Your people will respect you more for having the courage to come to APC at your own time. Nobody forced you, but you believe it is the best way to serve your people. I value your decision.”
Governor Mai Mala Buni said the Governors joined APC in appreciation of the good works the President was doing for the country, and also announced that ward, local government and state congresses of the party would start from July 31, 2021.
He said the congresses were shifted for one week, because the initial dates clashed with Sallah festivities.
At the federal high court being used as battle ground by the PDP members, , the party asked the court in Abuja to sack the Governor and his deputy over their unlawful defection from the party to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The request forms part of the reliefs being sought in a suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/489/2021 filed in the names of two PDP members from Zamfara State, Alhaji Sani Kaura Ahmed and Abubakar Muhammed.
The plaintiffs are contending that, in view of an earlier judgment of the Supreme Court, to the effect that the APC had no candidates in the 2019 governorship election in Zamfara State, having not conducted valid primaries, it would be unlawful for Matawalle and Gusau to retain their offices while defecting from the PDP to the APC, and thereby transferring PDP’s victory to the APC.
They want the court to, among others, declare that Matawalle and Gusau must resign from their offices before their defection to allow the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct fresh election, within three months, for the PDP to replace them.
On Monday when the legal battle was kick started through ex-parte motion argued by the plaintiffs lawyer, Kanu Agabi (SAN), Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo granted an order of substituted service of the originating processes on the Governor and Deputy Governor.
By the order, the governor and his deputy are to be served with all court papers through the National Secretariat of APC in Abuja.
Justice Ekwo thereafter fixed July 16 for report of court papers on the two defendants.
The governor had two weeks ago, defected from PDP to APC which prompted the move by PDP to claim its mandates from them through court action.