President Muhammadu Buhari orders Mr Rotimi Amechi, and four other Ministers to resign their offices to pursue their presidential ambitions.
Government spokesperson, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced the presidential order at the end of 11 May meeting of the Federal Executive Council.
The President reportedly gave the directive after announcing that Minister of State for Education, Emeke Nwajiuba, similarly resigned.
The order affects six ministers running for president and three others seeking state and legislative mandates in 2023.
Mohammed told newsmen that President Buhari praised Nwajiuba for obeying the electoral law by quitting his job.
“I expect other members of this council seeking to be President to resign with immediate effect,” President Buhari reportedly said.
Amechi is one of six ministers running for President on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Others are Godswill Akpabio (Niger Delta), Chris Ngige (Labour & Employment), and Ogbonnaya Onu (Science, Technology and Innovation).
The junior Ministers among them are Nwajiuba of Education and Timipre Sylva of Petroleum Resources.
Justice Minister and Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami is running for the office of governor (Kebbi State) while Uche Ogar (Mines and Steel) wants to govern Cross River. The only woman among them, Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, is running for Senate from Plateau State.
Alhaji Lai’s media briefing did not indicate whether the President’s directive affects other public officers outside the cabinet.
“As of this moment, the mandate I have is for members of the Federal Executive Council. Subsequently it might affect other political appointees but that will be made known. If there is going to be any amendment or any inclusion, you will be informed in due course,” he said.
What the law says
However, the 2023 electoral law mandates public officers seeking elective positions to quit their offices at least six months to their party primaries.
Specifically, Section 84(2) of the Electoral Act 2023 mandates public officers who want to participate in the election to resign their offices before they are eligible to do so. It also interprets participation as aspiring to become either a delegate or a party candidate.
Those affected include ministers, commissioners, special advisers and other political appointees.
A judge in Abia state however recently ruled that the section of the electoral law requiring public officers to quit their positions to contest elections breaches constitutional rights. Justice Minister, himself a candidate, quickly praised the ruling and vowed to expunge it from the law.
Nevertheless, President Buhari signed the legislation into law although he asked the national assembly to take a second look at the particular provision.
Buhari orders Amechi, 5 others ministers to resign and pursue their presidential ambitions
Enugu State PDP appears in a fix to defend a 3-man Ward ad-hoc delegates list submitted for the 2023 elections.
The delegates are to join five ward executives and mandatory delegates to elect party candidates and national delegates.
Party candidates to be elected include those for Governor, Senate, House of Representatives, and State House of Assembly.
There were claims that some Wards witnessed parallel elections among the 260 Wards in the State. In other Wards, opposition group had a field day following the absence of candidates promoted by the Governor.
However, party members we spoke to claimed that the PDP state executive did not organize the Ward Convention in many wards. Rather, they were said to have written up and submitted names of preferred delegates.
Unusual Ward Congresses
Our investigations however show that Ward Chairmen texted party members to participate in the 30 April Ward Congress.
Interestingly, most of the messages we saw were sent between 10.00 p.m. and midnight, less than 10 hours to the Congress.
Partymen that spoke with us said they met an unusual situation when they arrived the Ward venue for the congress.
“We were told that the Congress has been done and the delegates elected,” one aspiring delegate told Enugu Metro.
“People from the Ekweremadu Camp didn’t mind. They pushed for the election to hold, as party executive and INEC observers were present.”
“There were no results sheets to record the outcome of the election, but they didn’t mind. They wrote the results on a sheet of paper and the executive and INEC observer signed it,” he said.
Battle for PDP Ward delegates list
Enugu Metro confirmed that in some Wards, both INEC observers and party executive signed the list of elected delegates.
News of the development forced some LGA Council officials to storm some venues and disrupt the process.
Violence broke out in at least three centres where casualties were recorded. In Aninri and Igbo-Eze North LGAs, matchets were freely used on opposition supporters,
Meanwhile, Enugu Government House released a statement same day saying that everything went well.
The Ikeoha Campaign organisation however disputed the claim.
Legal fireworks begin
The issue of which list was submitted to Abuja has gone to the courts as both groups struggle to gain an upper hand.
It is a proxy battle between groups sympathetic to the Governor and state executive on one side and the Ekweremadu group on the other.
This will be the final battle before the State Delegates Congress where candidates of the party will be selected.
Four of the Governor’s loyalists have asked the courts to prevent PDP from tampering with the list submitted by their representatives.
The Ekweremadu men, on the other hand, are asking the courts to declare the result of delegates congress signed by party executives and INEC observers on plain sheets as the authentic result of the 30 April Ward Congress.
First Court order
Yesterday, Judge Harold Eya of the Enugu High Court pronounced on the first order request from the Governor’s Camp.
He granted an ex-parte motion to restrain PDP from recognizing any list of ad-hoc delegates “other than the list that emerged from the congress held in all the wards in Enugu State on April 30, 2022.”
The judge equally restrained PDP from “allowing any other three-man ad hoc delegates to participate in the PDP’s Primary Election.”
The case, listed as Suit No. E/379/2022, was filed by Barrister O. J. Uchenna for four others – Prince Paul Nnaji, Tobias Ogbonna Onu, Cyril Obi Chukwu and Kevin Ikechukwu Agbo.
They claimed that Ward Congresses was supervised and authenticated by the National Working Committee’s five-man electoral panel.
In their 44-paragraph affidavit, the applicants said that
“a 3-man Delegate Congress held in Enugu State on the 30 April 2022
the Congress was monitored, supervised and duly authenticated by the five (5) man electoral panel set up by the National Working Committee of the PDP
the list of those that emerged from the congress had already been submitted and received by the PDP Head Office in Abuja; and
that no other three-man Delegate Congress ought to be conducted in Enugu State or anywhere for Enugu State, having successfully concluded the one held on the 30 April.”
PDP national and state party chairmen as well as members of the electoral panel were joined as defendants.
It’s all deceit, says Ikeoha Campaign
The Ikeoha Campaign today laughed off the case, describing it as an attempt to “validate impunity.”
The courts do not act in a vacuum, the organisation said in a statement signed by its Directory-General, Charles Ogbo Asogwa.
“There is no evidence of any exercise in their court papers. Neither was there any list of their supposed winners of the three-man delegates’ congress.
“It is part of the continued efforts to deceive the stakeholders, who innocently nominated the so-called delegates.
“These people could not participate in the exercise because an interest group was hiding forms so that every person would believe that his or her list is being preserved. There is no such preservation. It is all deceit.
“Those who were genuinely elected in a transparent exercise at the designated centres and time are already at the appropriate courts to protect their victory on a solid legal footing.
“We therefore call on the people of Enugu State to trust God, as this too will end in victory,” Asogwa said.
Tension builds up in Enugu as uneasy silence pervades last Saturday’s PDP Congress to elect 3-man delegates in 260 wards.
The delegates will elect the party’s governorship candidate for the 2023 election at the forthcoming State party convention.
Enugu Metro checks show that Saturday’s ward convention to select the three-man delegates did not go well across many wards.
The commonest complaint was that the State Party executive connived with the Three-Man Ward Congress Electoral Committee to hoard results sheets.
There were accusations that the results sheets were subsequently filled with names of loyalists of the State Governor at a hotel in proximity with Government House.
Enugu Metro learnt that in most wards, party members who arrived early at the congress venues were told that the process had been completed.
However, Ward party executive proceeded to conduct the elections, although the results were recorded on ordinary sheets of paper.
“We are not worried by this because the exercise was witnessed by INEC officials, who countersigned the results,” a local government party official told Enugu Metro.
“We shall meet them anywhere to prove that ours is the authentic delegates list,” he said.
Sahara Reporters reported that in some Wards, violence broke out as loyalists of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi clashed with those of opposition aspirants, notably Sen Ike Ekweremadu.
In one of many recorded incidents, one Ugwu Bertrand was brutally attacked by State-sponsored Neighborhood Watch officials at Amagu Ugbaike, Enugu Ezike, Igboeze North LGA. He is currently hospitalised at an undisclosed location.
Ugwu told Enugu Metro at his hospital location that a supervisor at Igbo-Eze North LGA and a House of Reps aspirant, a former Commissioner, sponsored his attack for being an Ekweremadu loyalist.
In Awgu LGA, party Chairman, Chief Okey Udeh was beaten up and his phone seized allegedly on the orders of Local Government Chairman, Mr. Pedro Nwankwo.
The phone was handed over to the Police but Udeh was told that he will retrieve it only on the condition that he agrees to delete the violence that he recorded at the venue.
In Enugu, a couple of aspirants told us that they will challenge the delegates list in court if it did not tally with what was recorded in the fields during the exercise.
There are also accusations that the state party chair is working with the executive to frustrate the party processes and rules.
Neither the party chairman nor Sen Ekweremadu’s spokesperson responded to Enugu Metro’s enquiries on the matter at the time of filing the report.
It was peaceful, Governor says
The following statement was released on Saturday by the Office of the Governor on behalf of the Party National Committee that came to supervise the Ward 3-man delegates congress:
The Enugu State Electoral Committee from the National Secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the conduct of the ward congresses of the party in the state has described the exercise, which was monitored by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as peaceful, transparent and credible.
Speaking when members of the PDP electoral committee supervised the ward congresses held to elect three-man ad hoc delegates, the Chairman of the panel, Prince Vincent Yandev Amaabai, expressed delight at the peaceful atmosphere of the exercise across the 260 electoral wards in Enugu State.
The Chairman added that the electoral processes were well organized, and commended the Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi-led PDP leadership in Enugu State for the peaceful outcome of the ward congresses in the state.
He disclosed that the panel will submit the names of those who emerged winners from the ward congresses to the National Secretariat in Abuja.
Led by the Chairman of the PDP in Enugu State, Hon. Augustine Nnamani, to supervise the congress in Umunevo, Ward 02, Ogui Nike, Enugu North Local Government Area, Prince Amaabai, accompanied by other committee members, Hon. Okey Ahiwe and Dr. Adetokumbo Pearse, said: “We are members of the PDP state electoral committee who have come from the National Secretariat of our great Party in Abuja to conduct the ward congresses.
“We are going round to supervise and see what you people are doing. Coming here we can see that you people are well organized and peaceful.
“We want to inform you that delegates’ election is a proper election supervised by INEC. And we are happy that the INEC representative is here monitoring this exercise.
“It is either done by consensus or by queuing behind candidates of your choice. The list of the three ad hoc delegates that emerge here is what we will send to our PDP National Secretariat in Abuja. Nobody can change anything. It is what you people do on the ground here that we will submit to Abuja.
“The person here is the representative of INEC, Anthony Obinna, who was sent to monitor this ward congress, you (Obinna) have seen everything yourself. That is how PDP does its thing. Everything is transparent and peaceful.
“I want to tell you people again that the National Secretariat of our party has so much respect for the PDP in Enugu State under the leadership of Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
“This is because since their (PDP National Officers) assumption of office November last year, nobody has heard any complaint from Enugu State and we hope that this record will continue.”
At Umuenwene Ward, Enugu East LGA, where members of the electoral committee were received by the Speaker of the Enugu State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Edward Ubosi, the member representing Enugu East/Isi-Uzo Federal Constituency, Prince Cornelius Nnaji, and the Council Chairman, Nze Livinus Anike, among others, the Committee Chairman equally expressed satisfaction with the peaceful conduct of the exercise which was also monitored by an INEC official, Mrs. Perpetual Onyia.
He told the jubilant and enthusiastic party faithful at the congress that “we are happy with the performance of the PDP in Enugu State”, adding: “The National Secretariat is happy with you because since they (NWC members) took over the leadership of the party last year we have never heard of any issue in Enugu State. We pray God that it will continue to be like that”.
On getting to Eda-Nta Ward in Ede-Oballa, Nsukka LGA, where members of the PDP, including the former State Chairman of the party, Engr. Vita Abba, were queuing behind candidates of their choice to elect the three-man delegates, members of the electoral panel applauded their orderliness and comportment, stressing that it was democracy in action.
“We are happy to see people already lining up behind candidates of their choice. Since we have been going round, we haven’t had any crisis. Even here that you have decided to queue up behind your candidates, it is still very peaceful. This is commendable.
“I want to assure you that, whatever result that emanates from the exercise and across the 260 wards, is certainly what we are taking to Abuja; nobody is going to change anybody’s result”.
The story was the same in Obollo-Eke, Udenu LGA, and Ikem in Isi-Uzo LGA, as the visibly joyful party faithful rolled out drums to receive the electoral committee members.
Commending the peaceful exercise, the Chairman said: “We want to thank you people so much for this peaceful atmosphere here. Since we came to Enugu State we have not recorded any incident anywhere. It has been very calm.
“We also bring you felicitations from the National Secretariat, Abuja. Since the new National Leadership came on board, we have been having complaints here and there but we have not heard of any complaint from Enugu State. So you people have set a record and we hope you will continue like that.”
He went further to recognize the presence of the INEC officials at the two events and urged the participants to continue to support the party at all times.
The Chairmen of Udenu, Enugu North, Nsukka and Isi-Uzo LGAs, Hon. Solomon Onah, Hon. Emeka Onunze, Hon. Barr. Walter Ozioko and Hon Obiora Obeagu respectively, joined in welcoming the committee members at their respective council areas.
Tension builds up in Enugu after Ward Delegates Congress
In apparent reversal of an earlier report, the PDP screening committee clears Chief Valentine Ozigbo, former Anambra State governorship flagbearer, to contest the Senate election.
Ozigbo aspires to represent Anambra South District in the Senate. Initial reports suggested that the Committee hammered him for late submission of nomination forms.
The Committee also cleared Dr. Obinna Uzor for the party’s upcoming primaries contest.
Besides Ozigbo and Uzor, others cleared by the 5-person Committee included serving Senators Uche Ekwunife and Stella Oduah.
The rest are Chief Chris Ubah, Ezebiakwa Peace, Chiefs Tony Nwoye and John Emeka.
However, Chief Chuma Nzeribe remains under the hammer for allegedly giving false information.
Nzeribe was disqualified by the Committee based on a legal issue he is sorting out in a law court.
Even though declared wanted by a court, the Committe said Nzeribe denied that he ever faced trial in any court of law.
Consequently the Committee accused him of attempting to mislead the party over his court case. They noted that he “jumped bail and was declared wanted.”
“We have in our possession, a Court Order in Charge No. CR/791/2020, between FRN v. Hon. Chuma Nzeribe, before Hon. Justice Y. Halilu.
“On December 17, 2020, Hon. Chuma Nzeribe was admitted to bail, after he pleaded not guilty to the charges on December 16, 2020.
“He subsequently breached the bail terms and jumped bail,” the Committee wrote in its report.
Chief Sunny Udeh Okoye, former National Youth leader, led the five-man screening committee. Others were Committee Secretary, Eddy Izondu, Dr Angela Mba, Dr Innocent Nwankwo, and Alhaji Rukayat Ibrahim.