By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
Barrister Pam Gyang Davou, was the Organising Secretary in the Senator Tunde Ogbeha led Caretaker Committee which, in 2021, conducted the congresses of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Plateau State.
Against the background of legal dissensions and political reversals in the Court of Appeal arising from the case brought by the All Progressives Congress, APC that the PDP lacks structure in Plateau State, Gyang in an interview monitored from AIT gives his reply as he asserts that the Supreme Court will do justice to the issues before it.
Q: What’s your observation on the Court of Appeal judgment sacking the governor on the claim of lack of structure in the PDP?
A: The facts and the issues have been seriously misrepresented. Clearly, a miscarriage of facts and law. Truth be told, I was privileged to be the organizing secretary of the PDP under H.E. Senator Tunde Ogbeha who was the chairman of that technical committee and that caretaker committee came about because there was a court order that the PDP should repeat its congress. Out of obedience and in compliance to the court order the then exco was dissolved and the caretaker committee was put in place.
Clearly, I know that a screening committee was put in place which screened the candidates that participated in the congress and there was a congress committee headed by Prince Akanmode from Kogi and he was in charge of the congress. Remember we were the caretaker Committee and of course, there was a local organizing committee.
It will amaze you that the quorum for that congress was two-thirds of the total delegates and in that congress we had more than two-thirds. We had a total of 2,111 expected delegates out of which we had a total of 1,800 delegates. If you say that that congress did not hold, it then is simply a wonder. The PDP constitution is very clear, it provides for the organs that are supposed to participate in the congress.
In the Court of Appeal there was this erroneous impression that 12 local governments in Plateau did not participate in that congress. That is not true. In fact I put it to you that there were three ad-hoc delegates from every ward in Plateau State and we have 207 wards on the plateau and we had three elected ad-hoc delegates from every ward and there were five principal officers of the ward excos of the 207 wards. That alone gives you eight people from every ward of Plateau not to talk of former chairmen and so.
How can you say that 12 local governments did not participate when out of 2,111 delegates, you had over 1,800 which is far beyond two-thirds of the quorum that was needed for that congress. How then can you say that congress did not hold? That’s not possible. INEC officials were there, they slept there, they submitted their reports, the list of delegates is there for everybody to see.
So, it is simply amazing that people would say that 12 local governments did not participate.
Be it as it may, some of these matters have even been settled by the courts. We have matters that are pre-election matters, we have matters that are purely election matters.
In fact, I do not think that the APC on the plateau or any party like that has the locus standi to even delve into matters concerning PDP or concerning a congress that was held in 2021.
Q: Are you saying that the PDP obeyed the court order?
A: Yes, there was a congress. All the media houses were in that congress. There was a congress.
Even in the tribunal here in Jos, there was a video of the congress that was played. Everybody knows that there was a congress.
You know what shocks me is that I was privileged to be the Organizing Secretary and being that I am a lawyer, I know that the law certainly forecloses certain actions against the primaries of political parties.
I really don’t understand because as a member of the bar, I am confused. I am confused.
Let me shock you. There was a case in the Federal High Court here in Jos where someone took the PDP to the Federal High Court and was challenging the validity of that congress and the Federal High Court here in Jos held that the PDP had a valid congress. The man was not satisfied, he went to the Court of Appeal and the Court of Appeal upheld the judgment of the Federal High Court. So, what is baffling me is that the Court of Appeal here in Jos, not even sitting as a tribunal, looked at the facts before it and came to the conclusion that the PDP held a valid congress. But the Court of Appeal as a tribunal departed from the judgment of the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal. One is bound to ask questions. What is wrong? What went wrong?
Q: So, the claim that the PDP didn’t have a structure is not true?
It is not true. I was the Organizing Secretary of the caretaker committee at that time. We all slept at Langfield. I can call a litany of Plateau people who were there. Some went home and came back in the morning.
By the way, I am forced to ask, does the tribunal have the locus standi to delve into the affairs of the PDP?
Does APC as a political party, is it backed by law to go into the affairs of the PDP and begin to ask that whether PDP conducted congress in 2021 or not.
By the way, we conducted the congresses. Some of us are even amazed that this is happening because here on the Plateau we know that the party that did not even conduct congresses was the APC. As at today, there is someone challenging the supposed chairman of APC today because there was no congress. It was only imposition. And the party that held valid congresses you are now using a court to become another electoral umpire? It is strange. This is going to task the legal jurisprudence of this country for ages to come.
Q: If you say you conducted primaries and the court is saying you didn’t, so where is this coming from?
A: You know we are all baffled beyond imaginations. I put it to you that even in the judgment at the appeal court there was a line that said ‘yes there was compliance but the compliance was not total.’ So, how do they measure compliance? Who measures compliance?
The truth of the matter is that as a party man, we are so, so happy with that congress because PDP faithful, for a very long time came together. Let me put it on record that Senator Tunde Ogbeha did a great job on the Plateau. because when he was appointed caretaker chairman went round all the local governments of this state, met with every stakeholder and brought all the leaders of the party together. That was why during that congress every PDP stakeholder, every PDP elder was present at that hall. All of them. None was missing.
Q: Do you trust that the apex court will do justice to this case?
I do. Do you know why? Precedence has been laid down by the Supreme Court concerning cases like this. In same facts the Supreme Court has severally held that these are pre-election matters and that the tribunal lacks the jurisdiction to dwell into pre-election matters. The Supreme Court will make this country proud, make the legal profession proud because they are going to do justice to the matter. I don’t see how the Supreme Court will toe the line of the Court of Appeal because the Supreme Court of Nigeria severally, down history has corrected cases of anomaly like this.
So, I have every confidence that the Supreme Court will right the injustice that has been meted out to Plateau PDP