•Opposition party lists ex-Katsina gov, four others as peace moves begin
•Party reverses Ortom’s summons to face disciplinary panel, seeks members’ unity
The National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party led by the acting National Chairman, Umar Damagum, has reversed the suspension of the party’s chieftains including a former Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose and an-President of the Senate, Pius Anyim.
The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, who disclosed this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja, said the suspension of other party leaders such as a former Katsina State Governor, Ibrahim Shema; a Benue State chieftain, Prof Dennis Ityavyar, and Dr Aslam Aliyu of Zamfara State, was also reversed.
Also on Thursday, the Benue State Working Committee of the PDP suspended the executive of the party in the Igyorov ward of the Gboko Local Government Area of the state.
Before the February 25 presidential election, five PDP governors, known as G-5, had insisted that Ayu must resign to pave the way for a southerner as the national chairman.
They subsequently withdrew their support for the party’s candidate, Atiku Abubakar, thus leading to his defeat in Rivers, Oyo, Enugu, Abia and Benue states during the election.
But the PDP NWC led by Ayu on March 23 hit back at some chieftains, on the grounds of anti-party activities.
In a statement by its spokesman, the party directed the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, to appear before its disciplinary committee.
It suspended Fayose, Anyim, Shema, Aliyu and Ityavyar. Fayose, however, dismissed the suspension, saying Ayu’s days as the national chairman were numbered.
Fayose, through his media aide, Lere Olayinka, described the suspension by the Ayu-led NWC as “the last kick of a dead horse.”
In a statement titled, “My suspension is Ayu’s last kick of a dead horse – Fayose,” the former governor said, “Ayu and his cohorts are only entertaining themselves with the purported suspension as their latest comedy skit.”
Fayose said he and others, who stood by the party when Ayu and his supporters left it to die, would rescue the PDP and give life back in due course, adding, “The purported suspension will have no leg to stand.’’
Ortom, on his part, said that it was contemptuous of the party’s leadership to disregard the court Order which barred the party or any organ of the party from issuing any disciplinary measure against him.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, Ortom said, ‘’I think the national leadership of our great party is losing its sense of direction. Instead of the leadership sitting back and thinking of ways to rebuild the party from the ruins of the defeat from the just concluded elections, they are going about chasing imaginary shadows.
“In any case, the first person the party should refer to the disciplinary committee should be the national chairman of the party, Dr Iyorchia Ayu. The national chairman lost his polling unit, lost his ward, local government, and even the state,” Ikyur said.
On his part, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, said, “Ayu and Sam Anyanwu, the national secretary, and other members of the NWC cannot suspend Ayo Fayose not to talk about referring governor Ortom to a national disciplinary committee.
Three days after Fayose predicted Ayu’s ouster, the PDP executive in the Igyorov ward, where Ayu hails from, on Sunday suspended the national chairman as a member of the party alleging anti-party activities and failure to pay his dues.
The crisis worsened on Monday when a Benue State High Court restrained Ayu from parading himself as the chairman of the party following a suit filed by Conrad Utaan, a former aide to the Benue State governor.
On Tuesday, the party announced the appointment of the Deputy National Chairman, (North), Umar Damagum, as the acting national chairman, shortly after Ayu stepped aside from the position.
But on Thursday, the Damagum-led NWC, in its first major decision reversed the suspension of the party chieftains.
The PDP spokesman, Ologunagba, in the statement it issued, stated “The NWC recognised the imperativeness of a total reconciliation among party leaders and critical stakeholders for a more cohesive Party in the overall interest of our teeming members and Nigerians in general.
“Consequent upon the above, the NWC reverses the referral of the Governor of Benue State, His Excellency, Dr Samuel Ortom to the National Disciplinary Committee.
“The NWC in the same vein reverses the suspension of Ibrahim Shema, Katsina State; Ayodele Fayose, Ekiti State; Senator Pius Anyim, Ebonyi State; Prof Dennis Ityavyar, Benue State and Dr Aslam Aliyu, Zamfara State. “
The party’s spokesperson noted that the decision was without prejudice to the powers of the NWC to take necessary disciplinary action against any member of the party at any time pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution of the PDP (as amended in 2017).
According to him, the NWC charged all leaders, critical stakeholders and teeming members of the party across the country to be guided by the provisions of the PDP Constitution (as amended in 2017) as well as the new spirit and necessity of reconciliation, unity and harmony in our Party at this critical time.
The PDP said its supporters must remain focused as “they continue to take every necessary action to recover the stolen mandate freely given by Nigerians to their party and presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, on Saturday, February 25, 2023, at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal. “
Also on Thursday, the Benue State Working Committee of the PDP suspended the executive committee of the party in the Igyorov ward of the Gboko Local Government Area of the state.
The party, in a statement the state Chairman, Isaac Mffo, and other 12 state officials signed, said the suspension was necessary to forestall violence that led to the suspension of Ayu.
Earlier on Wednesday, the party’s Publicity Secretary, Bemgba Iortyom, in a statement in Makurdi, accused the former chairman of the state Internal Revenue Board, Terzungwe Atser of threatening some of the Igyorov council ward executive members, who suspended Ayu.
The state Chairman, Mffo, noted that the Igyorov council ward executive was suspended for one month to allow for peace to be restored in the area.
He added that the state working committee would henceforth take charge of the political affairs of the party in the Igyorov ward.
Mffo stated, “The executive committee of the PDP in Igyorov council ward is hereby suspended for a period of one month pending necessary action which shall be taken to restore sanity, harmony, law and order in the party in the area.
“The executive committee of the PDP in the Igyorov council ward shall hand over all documents and other items in their possession belonging to the party to the state executive committee of the party with immediate effect.
“The state Working Committee shall during this period administer the affairs of the party in Igyorov council ward in the best interest of the party, discipline, growth and success.
Meanwhile, the party has accused the former chairman of Benue State Internal Revenue Board, Terzungwe Atser, of threatening some of the Igyorov council ward executives that suspended the national chairman.
The party in the state also expressed confidence in the acting chairman of the party to resolve matters without resorting to violence of whatever kind as an option.
Thirteen members of the Igyorov ward executive have on Sunday signed the suspension letter of the national chairman.
The PDP in the state in a statement issued by its publicity secretary accused Atser of threatening those who signed the suspension letter.
But Atser has described the allegations against him as ‘untrue’.
The party stated, “The Benue PDP states that the crisis which has been lingering in the national leadership of the party for some time now is most unfortunate and does not bode well for its growth going forward from the regrettable outcome of the 2023 elections.
“We, however, believe in the party’s well-tested mechanisms for resolving its internal disputes, being they are all civil and in line with its charter and character as a law-governed democratic institution.
“The emergence of Ambassador Umar Iliya Damagum as Acting National Chairman of the party following the exit of Dr Iyorchia Ayu from the office attests to its proven ability to amicably resolve matters without resorting to violence of whatever kind as an option.
“We, therefore, caution Terzungwe Atser to desist from threatening any official or member of the party as to do so is not only a breach of the PDP constitution but also amounts to criminality which is punishable under Nigerian law.
“PDP values its officials and members alike and will do everything within its powers to protect and defend them from both internal and external aggression, intimidation and harassment.
Meanwhile, Atser in a text message, said, “The allegation is not true. I am a peaceful person and I always preach peace; so I cannot be seen to be involved in such.”