The members of the State Working Committee and the 39 members of the State Executive Committee of the Lagos State chapter of the People’s Democratic Party have described the purported suspension of the party’s state chairman, Philip Olabode Aivoji, and his deputy, Tai Benedict, as unlawful, unconstitutional and the highest level of political rascality ever witnessed in the history of the Lagos State chapter of the party.
In a communiqué jointly signed by 27 of the 39 – member State Executive Committee, the party considered the action of the disgruntled five – man member of the State Working Committee usurping the constitutional responsibilities of majority of the SWC and the 39 members of the State Executive Committee of the party by suspending the state chairman and his deputy as a nullity ab-initio and an unprecedented level of impunity as they lacked the constitutional power and the required number to execute such dastardly act.
The communiqué further added that the State Working Committee and indeed the State Executive Committee had no constitutional power to take any disciplinary action against the state chairman or to ratify the suspension or disciplinary action against the said state officer of the party as such power resides with the National Executive Committee of the Party (NEC) in accordance with section 57 sub-section 7 of the constitution of the party (2017 as amended)
“Notwithstanding any other provision relating to discipline, no Executive at any level except the National Executive Committee (NEC) shall entertain any question of discipline as may relate to or concern a member of the NEC, Deputy Governors or members of the National Assembly”, the communiqué quoted section 57, sub – section 7 of the party’s constitution
According to the party’s state secretary, Soji Orioye, “very annoying was the ignorance displayed by the five dissident members who pretended as if they were not aware that the matter was already a subject of litigation before a court of competent jurisdiction and a Federal High Court in Lagos State,” stressing that their actions amount to contempt of court and soon or later they would be made to face the full wrath of the law.
He further explained that the actors were aware of a subsisting or pending order of a Lagos High Court that parties in the case should maintain the status quo pending the determination of the substantive matter before the court and any act which, therefore, controverts this pending order was an affront on the law and order with the propensity of snow-balling into anarchy.
On the establishment and composition of Disciplinary Committee by the five dissident members of the State Working Committee, the party noted that in line with section 57, sub – section 2 of the party’s constitution, the constitutional power to constitute a disciplinary committee resides within the confines of the majority members of the State Working Committee (SWC) and to be ratified by the State Executive Committee (SEC) of the party and not an illegal kangaroo committee unknown to the law.
The party, however, dispelled the rumour that he State Woman Leader, Mrs. Idowu Akinsanya, and the State Legal Adviser, Folake Philips, had decamped from the PDP as they had both denied such claims and challenged the proponents of the allegation to come forward with their evidence that they had left the party.
While condemning the misguided actions of the five errant members of the party’s SWC as an aberration to the peaceful management of the party and an affront on the party’s constitution, the party appealed to the national headquarters of the PDP to take cognizance of the illegalities perpetrated by the five errant members as both the Directorate of the State Security ( DSS) and the Police had been adequately encouraged to investigate further infractions and constitutional breaches by the minority five members.
The party also reiterated its earlier vote of confidence passed on the state chairman at its State Executive Committee meeting of Thursday, April 6, 2023 and urged all concerned members of the party to remain calm as necessary constitutional processes were already being taken to address the illegalities and infractions perpetrated by the dissident SWC members.
The Lagos State chapter of the PDP had purportedly ratified the suspension of its Chairman, Philip Aivoji and his deputy, Tai Benedict, pending the outcome of court cases.
Aivoji and Benedict were allegedly suspended respectively by their ward executives on April 14 over alleged gross violation of the party’s Constitution.
The party’s Publicity Secretary in Lagos State, Hakeem Amode, stated on Tuesday in Lagos that the State Working Committee reached the resolution after appraising the outcome of 2023 general elections.
He stated that at a meeting held on Tuesday, the committee deliberated on saving the soul of the main opposition party in the state.
He added that the committee consequently confirmed Lagos PDP Vice Chairman (West Senatorial District), Sunday Olaifa, as acting chairman, pending the outcome of court cases.
He also stated that the committee settled for Olaifa being the Vice Chairman from the suspended chairman’s senatorial district.
Amode stated that the committee also constituted a seven-man disciplinary committee to look into all matters affecting the suspended officials.
Members of the disciplinary committee are Abayomi Kuye (Chairman), Mrs. Esther Egbi (Secretary), Isiaka Shodiya, Princess M.A Coker, Mrs. Kayode Ariwayo, Femi Oluokun and Segun Oriyomi.
Amode added that the post-election disciplinary committee was expected to revert to the State Working Committee one week from the date of its constitution.
Members of the State Working Committee at the meeting were Olaifa, Agboola Akinpelu (Youth Leader), Ismail Olatunji (State Auditor) and Adio Salami (State Organizing Secretary) and Amode.
“The five members in attendance constitute the majority of the nine members in the State Working Committee out of the original 14 members that can take the decision.
“Three of the original 14 members had decamped to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), thereby reducing the membership of the State Working Committee to 11.
“The embattled chairman and his deputy were part of the 11 remaining members and since they can’t adjudicate in their own case, only nine members were left to take decisions,” Amode said.
Some Lagos State PDP leaders were alleged to have abandoned the party’s governorship candidate, Abdul-Azeez Adediran, on the eve of the March 18 gubernatorial election to support either the Labour Party or the ruling APC.
The development was believed to have contributed to Adediran coming a distant third behind the winner, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of the APC and the first runner up, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour of the LP.