by ‘Jola Sotubo
Despite increased pressure to resign coming from several parties, National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Bamanga Tukur has said that those calling for his sack are fighting a lost battle.
According to Alhaji Tukur, no one can remove him from office, not even President Goodluck Jonathan.
The embattled chairman made his stance clear in a January 13 letter, written by his lawyer Ajibola Oluyede, to President Jonathan. He is said to have stated through this means that any plan to remove him would be invalid.
Tukur made his case by stating 3 reasons why he could not be sacked:
1, He was elected during a convention and can only be removed the same way.
2, There is a valid subsisting order of a Federal High Court, Abuja, issued on April 25 2013, mandating the party (PDP) to maintain status quo.
3, None of the allegations being brought against him have been proved.
The Nation reports:
In the suit he filed for PDP against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Justice Adamu Bello ordered parties to maintain status quo by not taking actions that would lead to the removal of the then national officers.
PDP, in the suit, sought, among others, a declaration that the tenure of the National Officers elected at the 2012 National Convention could not be truncated.
This was after the INEC alleged irregularity in the election, saying that the nominations of the officers who were unopposed at the 2012 convention were invalid because they were affirmed by voice votes instead of “open secret ballot”.
Tukur said he wrote Jonathan because he is the constitutional leader of the PDP and that it was reported that he (Jonathan) attended the BOT meeting where the plan to remove Tukur was hatched.
The letter reads: “My attention has been drawn to reported proceedings of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party, which culminated in the decision to remove Dr. Bamanga Tukur from the position of Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party.
“This removal is to be achieved either by pressurising him to resign or by some vote of lack of confidence to be procured against him at a planned National Working Committee meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party.
“This letter is addressed to you because you are the constitutional leader of the PDP and it was reported that you were in attendance at the BOT meeting.
“That order is still subsisting, valid and binding on the PDP and INEC till date and especially as at the time the BOT meeting decided to procure the removal of Dr. Bamanga Tukur.
“The position of Nigerian Law is that anyone, though not directly bound by an order of court, who aids or abets the negation of such an order is liable for criminal contempt and all contemptuous actions taken by contemnors are null and void and liable to be set aside by the court.”
Oluyede said he decided to write the president to forestall a breakdown of order and to prevent the PDP from falling into a booby trap.
“In the circumstance, we find that the deliberation by the BOT on a plan to remove the National Chairman of the PDP and the decisions and resolutions reached at that meeting are null and void and anything built on it will be equally null and void.
“More importantly, we must point out that INEC, which is a party to the proceedings in which the order was made, cannot recognise any new appointment or installation of a replacement for Dr. Tukur arising from the decision taken at the said BOT meeting or that of any other organ of the Party during the subsistence of the order for status quo.
“This would mean that any nomination forms submitted or signed by such a replacement would be equally null and void. The ramifications of this chain of illegalities are easy to imagine.”
The letter went on: “We have written, inter alia, to draw your attention to the taint this illegal process could be on an otherwise legitimate nomination process for the candidates of the PDP at the forthcoming general elections.
“This can be avoided now by mere attention to detail and compliance with due process.
“Due process in the circumstances dictates that any legitimate demand for the termination of Dr. Tukur’s tenure as National Chairman of the PDP be subjected to the procedure and processes prescribed by the Constitution of the Party for removal, only after the court has determined the pending action or otherwise vacated the subsisting order aforementioned.”
Also yesterday, Tukur insisted that he could only be removed through a properly conducted national convention of the party and that until that takes place, he remains the legally recognised national chairman.
He dismissed reports that President Jonathan had asked him to resign, saying that the party’s constitution did not vest the President with such powers. According to him, the report was the handiwork of the opposition.
Tukur said: “I am an elected national chairman. I have my certificate of return. I cannot resign. The convention brought me, so it has to take the convention that brought me for me to resign.
“So, not even the President can ask me to resign. Remember that some members of the National Woking Committee (NWC) were asked to go recently because the election that brought them was flawed. So Mr. President can not tread that route again.”