The crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has spread to the Lagos State Chapter. On Monday, the state chairman, Mr Tunji Shelle, was sacked by 34 members of the State Working Committee.
Shelle was reportedly sacked by the committee after being found guilty of about 13 allegations against him.
The committee accused Shelle of mismanaging election campaign funds and manipulating the party’s primaries last year leading to the defeat of the PDP at the polls.
He was immediately replaced by Kamaldeen Olorunoje, who before his new appointment, was the vice chairman of the party.
But in a swift reaction, Shelle described the sack as null and void, dismissing those involved in his alleged removal as “jokers”.
Shelle was accused, among others, of being responsible for the loss the PDP suffered during the March 28 and April 11 elections elections.
Addressing newsmen at the party secretariat, the PDP state secretary, AlhajiWahabOwokoniran, said the decision was a protest against the way the party was being run.
He said: “We members of the exco have all agreed that the way the party is being run should not be allowed. You will all agree with me that this party is not well run before, during and after the elections. There is need for restructuring. If we want restructuring, there is no way the chairman can continue in office.”
Owokoniran said the Disciplinary Committee set up by the party had recommended expulsion or impeachment of Shelle having found him guilty of all the 13 allegations levelled against him.
Owokoniran accused the party chairman of unilaterally rendering the PDP structure inactive before, during and after the 2015 polls without the approval of the state executive and allocating “funds to various party members and officials according to his wishes of seeking the approval of the State Working Committee.”
Shelle, he said, hijacked the functions of treasurer and the party secretary: “the money received by the party was outsourced to a third party who keeps it in his bank account and disburses from it.”
In addition, he said “he (Shelle) calls party official meetings without consultation. Lawful duties were neglected, especially refusing to consult with the State Electoral Commissioner until four months after he was deployed to the state. Party guidelines on payment for nomination form were breached by allowing his favoured aspirants to collect forms without payment.
“In Epe LGA, he manipulated a draw situation between two aspirants in the party primaries to favour his preferred candidate who subsequently defected to APC after losing the election,” Owokoniran alleged.
In his acceptance speech, the newly appointed Acting Chairman, Olorunoje, promised to bring about a new lease of life to the Lagos PDP, saying “the party shall be reorganised, renewed and reformed to face future challenges.”
However, shortly after the news broke out, some youths stormed the secretariat of the party at GRA Ikeja to protest Shelle’s removal.
The youths, led by one ShamsideenLawal, said they would not allow the acting chairman, Olorunoje and his team to function until the decision is reversed.
According to them, Shelle’s removal as the party chairman is “unfair, unjust, uncalled for and constitutional”.
They said the aim of the Olorunoje faction is to destabilise the party ahead of the local government elections so as to give the APC, which is sponsoring the faction, an edge.
“We will not accept this kangaroo impeachment. How can you say you impeach a man who gave us five seats in the House of Representatives and eight seats in the House of Assembly in a state that is the stronghold of APC…”
Faulting his removal, Shelle said it was contrary to the PDP constitution, insisting that it is only the National Executive Council (NEC), of the party that can remove him from office.
He said, “they are jesters, they are jokers. They are a set of irresponsible people. I do not even know them because they do not belong to the PDP. They have not followed the party’s constitution and in any case, the South-West leadership has already rebuked them. I was at a meeting of the South West leaders when I got the message and the South West has already reacted to it. Similarly, the national leadership has rebuked them because I am a member of the National Executive Council of the party, they do not have the powers to remove, impeach or even suspend me.”
Shelle, who described the alleged impeachment as an exercise in futility, insisted he remained the state chairman of the party.
“They have committed a huge blunder because they will regret getting involved in the first place,” he declared.
He added: “I have worked for the party; I have done what no other person has done for the party before. The party has never won elections in the past but in my time, we won some seats. Now these nonentity have been sponsored to remove me. They must have been sponsored because they are a group of hungry people, they do not have pedigree.”
Denying the allegation that he manipulated the primary that produced Jimi Agbaje as the governorship candidate of the party in Lagos State, he said Agbaje “remains the credible candidate that I know.”
In its reaction, the Lagos State Chapter of the PDP described Shelle’s purported sack as “laughable, null and void”.
In a statement by its Publicity Secretary, TaofikGani, the party called on party members to discountenance the said sack while also admonishing the brains behind the action to retrace their steps and allow peace to reign in the party.
The statement read “The PDP reiterates that the State Chairman leading the present state exco has delivered the best unprecedented electoral result to the party members. It is therefore very irrational for any persons to provoke acrimony in the party by claiming that the State Chairman has not performed to warrant continuing in office. The party also faulted the modus operandi employed by the detractors which offends the provisions of the party’s constitution on the sack of a State chairman.”
The statement added: “The State Chairman is a member of NEC and can only be removed or suspended by the consent of the NEC. There is no NEC approval to the action. It thus stands, Null and Void. For the sake of clarity, Capt. TunjiShelle remains the legitimate chairman of PDP in the state. All dealings with the party in the state should be through him.”