By Tunde Joshua, Isaac Olamikan, CHARLES ONYEKWERE, Chris Ezeonoh
P r e p a r a t i o n s are in top gear for the Peoples D e m o c r a t i c Party (PDP) presidential primary election. Party chieftains led by chairman of the Convention planning committee, Senator David Mark inspected MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja venue of the primary election. Members of the planning committee, Governors Samuel Ortom of Benue, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta and a former Katsina State governor, Shehu Ibrahim Shema on Tuesday inspected facilities at the 7,000 capacity Velodrome section of the stadium granted for the May 28 / 29 event.
The Trumpet gathered that the PDP had earlier applied for the use of the Eagles Square, Abuja but the request was rejected because the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is billed to hold its presidential primary on May 30/31 at the venue. To ensure proper allocation of the MKO Abiola Stadium, Sports Minister, Sunday Dare conducted the PDP chieftains round the stadium on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the party has extended dates for Congresses and primaries. A statement from the office of the National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba indicated that National Working Committee (NWC) of the party approved the extension.
The party, consequently wrote the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to notify it of changes in dates. In the letter jointly signed by both the national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu and national Secretary, Senator. Sam Anyanwu and addressed to the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the PDP fixed Saturday May 21, 2022 as date for State House of Assembly primaries and Sunday May 22, 2022 for House of Representatives primaries.
Primaries for Senate seats now hold on Monday May 23, 2022 and Governorship primaries in states hold on Wednesday May 25, 2022. With the letter, it is expected that there is no change to the May 28 and 29 date fixed for the presidential primary election.
Meanwhile, a socialpolitical pressure group under the aegis of Esan South East for Justice, Tuesday, condemned reports reaching it over what it described as the criminal delisting of Barrister Ken Imansuagbon(aka Riceman) as a national delegate of the party for the council area. Imansuangbon had last weekend at a Congress conducted at Ubiaja, the administrative headquarters of Esan South East Local Government Area and supervised by INEC officials won with 156 votes against his opponent Giwa Agbomere who scored 50 votes.
While appealing to Governor Godwin Obaseki to intervene in the matter, they also called on Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the Police and the DSS to investigate and ensure those behind the dastardly act are exposed to save our democracy.
In a statement released by the Coordinator of the group in Benin, Imafidon Ernest, said the report to disenfranchise the former PDP governorship aspirant from the delegates’ list is undemocratic and called on Senator Iyorchia Ayu and the National Working Committee(NWC) of the party to call to order the state chairman of the party, Tony Aziegbemi and his cohorts.
They also expressed shock that despite the fact that the Congress was conducted in a conviviality atmosphere and the people elected their preferred representative to the forthcoming national convention of the party and certificate issued to the winner, Imansuagbon, some dubious characters went ahead and submitted fake list to the national leadership of the party and delisted the delegate for Esan South East.
“It is no longer news to our group that Tony Aziegbemi is out to do the hatchet bidding of his pay masters to the detriment of the people of his locality. What a shame.
“We are however using the opportunity to call on the national Chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, to intervene quickly against this impunity. It is clear that the action of the perpetrators is fueled by greed, political gangsterism, criminal tendency and selfishness to continue to fuel crisis and division in the state PDP. “As a group, we are drawing the attention of the leadership of the party to address this anomaly. The people of Esan South East have spoken loud and clear last weekend with their votes for choice of Imansuangbon as their delegate.”
Also, Ikeoha Campaign Organisation, says it has uncovered plans to frame, arrest, and detain supporters of a former Deputy President of the Senate and governorship aspirant in Enugu, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, ahead of the PDP primary election in the state. It also alerted the public to alleged plans to unleash cultists on Ekweremadu’s supporters.
The campaign organisation revealed this on Monday in a statement signed by the Director General, Charles Ogbo Asogwa, calling on the heads of security agencies and the leadership of the PDP in Enugu State to take note and nip the plots in the bud.
He said: “Credible intelligence has alerted us to sinister plans to plant arms, ammunitions, and other implicating items on the properties of notable Enugu and PDP chieftains resolutely supporting Senator Ike Ekweremadu’s gubernatorial ambition.
The aim is to arrest, arraign, and have them consigned to Correctional Centres to ensure that they are out of circulation until after the primaries and 2023 general elections. “Nigerians should recall that the Chairman of the PDP in Okpatu Ward, Udi LGA, Paulinus Ugwu (Ayaya), is still detained in the Enugu Correction Centre on trumped-up charges and refused bail by the Enugu State Judiciary for many months now.
His continued detention is primarily to keep him away from the primaries where he is a statutory delegate. Likewise, several of our supporters have been charged to court for baseless offences to weaken our struggle for a New Enugu State.” The Organisation said it was equally in possession of credible intelligence pointing to plans to use a confraternity group to intimidate and attack its supporters.
“They also plan to unleash a particular confraternity group on Ekweremadu’s supporters to intimidate and muscle them out of their legitimate political convictions and choices,” the group said. “It is recalled that during our May 6th, 2022, press conference, we projected graphic footage and images of attacks unleashed on our supporters at the instance of or by government officials some of whom were clearly shown or confessed in that footage and pictures.
This was most dastardly and widespread during the April 30th, 2022, three-man delegates election and all the incidents dating back to 2021 have been formally reported to the law enforcement agencies. “Consequently, we wish to alert the Inspector-General of Police(IGP), DirectorGeneral of the Department for State Security (DSS), Commandant-General of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, the military service chiefs, the General Officer Commanding(GOC) 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, and all the security agencies with a view to relating with their relevant commands to ensure that the evil plots do not come to pass.
“Likewise, this is a call on the leadership of the PDP in Enugu State to work with the relevant security agencies and party leaders to ensure that every plot capable of jeopardizing the party’s cohesion and chances in the forthcoming elections is thwarted,” the campaign organisation concluded.
In a related political development, a High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, has adjourned to May 20, 2023, ruling on bail application by the embattled PDP governorship aspirant, Farah Dagogo.
The federal lawmaker was brought into the court room on wheel chair having been reported ill while in police detention and was admitted in a hospital. It would be recalled that Dagogo was declared wanted by Governor Nyesom Wike who gave orders that he (Dagogo) should be arrested after the Reps member had mobilized some youths to disrupt the screening exercise for the state and national assembly aspirants in Port Harcourt.
He was subsequently charged to court on two count charge of felony and attempted disruption of PDP national and state assembly aspirants screening exercise at the state party secretariat along Aba/PH express Road in Port Harcourt When he appeared on Monday before Justice Chiwendu Nwogu he pleaded not guilty to the charges. His legal team, led by Emmanuel Rukari, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN), tried to move motion for his bail, but it was blocked by the prosecution, led by the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zaccheus Adango, who insisted on responding to the motion.
According to Adango, the defense counsel had served the prosecution with the bail application even before the defendant was formally arraigned before the court stressing that the practice direction was wrong and subject to reply. After hearing from both parties, the court adjourned for ruling on the arguments. Justice Nwogu ordered that the accused be remanded in Correctional Centre, but allowed access to his doctors to continue with his treatment pending the next adjourned date.