By Abdulkareem Haruna
A faction of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Borno state had on Wednesday, September 22, announced the suspension of its 2019 governorship candidate, Mohammed Imam, over an alleged ploy to deny members access to nomination forms for the coming state congresses.
Mr Imam was accused of buying off the nomination forms and exclusively giving them out to only his loyalists.
The suspension was carried out by the state and local government executives of the party; even though the due process for suspension of a member from the political party in Nigerian rules that members can only be suspended or expelled from a party at his or her electoral ward.
Another section of the party had also declared the party’s newly reinstated state chairman, Usman Baderi, as unfit to preside over their affairs having been earlier suspended as chairman of the party for alleged unwillingness to work with other members of the state exco.
The constitution of the APC empowers two-third of the state working to impeach or suspend an errant officer over any act of misconduct as long as they form the quorum.
Mr Baderi was specifically accused of recognizing only three exco members who were this he won the supreme courts together with.
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The first faction that announced the suspension of Mr Imam are known loyalists of the suspended state chairman, while the latter are the guber candidate’s supporters. A fraction of the party that has existed for many years.
The two factions of a sharply divided opposition party have reactivated their years of animosity as the party congresses that decide the future of their party draws near.
On Wednesday, September 22, members of the PDP from Maiduguri Metropolitan Council held a press conference where they expressed angst over the alleged hijacking of the nomination form by Mr Imam, to the effect that many of their aspiring members could not purchase their.
The group said the former governorship candidate bought over all the forms and distributed the same to his loyalists, an allegation Mr Imam had swiftly debunked.
“That is so ludicrous to say I am suspended by a state or local government when officials and members of my electoral wars are not even aware,” Mr Imam said.
He added that “the party nomination forms are open for all members to buy, and because we took things more seriously that was why we moved ahead to buy the forms for our supporters.”
The aggrieved group insisted the action of Mr Imam violated the rules of the party as such they declared him and a former chairman, Zannah Gaddama who was recently removed from office by a Supreme Court justice.
In a swift reaction, another faction of the party held a press conference in Maiduguri to challenge the credentials of the other faction who announced the sack of Messrs. Mohammed and Gaddama.
During the second press conference led by the state organizing secretary, Comrade Bello insisted that Mr Mohammed did not commit any offence to warrant the action of surrounding him in the first place.
The opposition faction insisted the characters that went to announce the suspension of the former party flag bearer were not qualified to do so.
This was disclosed by the State Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Usman Baderi, represented by the Secretary, Yusuf Mohammed Dikko while briefing Journalists at the party secretariat in Maiduguri.
Mr Baderi accused Imam and Gaddama of not being willing to accept the judgment of the supreme court that reinstated him by going to hijack the party’s nomination forms for the coming party congresses.
“Right now, those who went to Court with them like Hon Imam and Alhaji Gaddama are destroying the party by creating factions within the party which is contrary to our party constitution, norms, ethics and values.
“Since our inauguration, we have received a series of complaints from wards and local governments on activities of those people who best, in their interest, are trying to destroy the party just as what they did in 2017 up to 2019 general elections.
“Going by what is happening now and their refusal to answer queries given to them by the Disciplinary Committee, the State Working Committee sat with stakeholders of our great party and finally resolved to uphold the suspension of Hon Mohammed Alkali Imam and Hon Zannah Gaddama Mustapha for their refusal to obey the Judgement of the Supreme Court and hijacking the Congress forms meant to be handled by the State Party Chairman, Hon Usman Mahdi Baderi”. Dikko stated.
Mallam Bukar who identified himself as the Secretary of Shehuri-North Ward said they had, at the ward level, passed a vote of no confidence on Mr Imam for hijacking the party affairs for his selfish interest
The former chairman of the party, Zannah Gaddama admitted, who insisted that he and those removed from office by the apex court had accepted and recognised Baderi’s leadership as instructed by the national secretariat of the party, their claims of hijacking the party and the decision to suspended were all unfounded.
He said; “only the working committee made up of 14 officials can suspend anybody from the party, at the moment, the party chairman only sat with three members of the party to decide on suspending us”.
At a separate press conference hosted by Comrade Umar Bello, the party’s state Organizing Secretary said neither Iman nor Gaddama were suspended because the decision did not come from their electoral ward, Shehuri North.
“We have the chairman and secretary of our party at the Shehuri North ward here with us and they are the ones that have the powers to decide the faith of any party member or official concerning membership, and surprisingly they are not even aware of what happened.
Mr Bello disclosed that the reinstated party chairman, Baderi has been suspended from parading himself as chairman of the party following his alleged failure to work with all members.
The state has 14 state working committee members, which include Baderi himself and three others.
We also have 39 executive committee members which we have their full list with us. But Baderi decided to work with only three people with whom he sat and concut lies about the suspension of our leader and former governorship candidate as well as our former party chairman.
Out of the 39 state executive members, only four are in the Baderi group; the remaining 35 are with us here and out of the 14 members of the working committee only four are with Baderi and the remaining 10 are here with us. So how can they sit to decide on any matter with the consent of the majority?
He said the national secretariat of the party issued nomination forms ahead of the party’s congresses that starts on September 25 with ward congress which will all end with the state congress on October 16.
The PDP gave 30 days ultimatum for the purchase of the forms by interested parties; after which another ten days of grace was given. We complied and bought the forms with our hard-earned money while Baderi and his group failed to do so in all three levels of the congresses. Now that the congresses are around the corner and after failing to buy the forms they resort to a campaign of calumny with a ploy to disrupt the exercise.
“As far as we are concerned, the PDP is intact and the action of Baderi and their paymasters cannot demoralize us because we are committed and we are growing and we are rallying behind the leader of our state Alhaji Mohammed Imam until we finally wrest the party from the ruling party come 2023, Insha Allah.