By Henry Umoru
ABUJA — STRONG indications emerged yesterday of a split in the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP over the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, NJC for the reinstatement of Justice Ayo Salami as the President of the Court of Appeal.
Vanguard gathered yesterday that some members of the National Working Committee, NWC of the party have taken a position against the recommendation of the NJC on Salami allegedly on the basis of what they claimed to be Salami’s past injurious actions on the party and some of its officials.
Among those said to be leading the opposition to Salami’s reinstatement is the party’s national secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola. Oyinlola remarkably was removed as Governor of Osun State in 2010 upon the ruling of the Court of Appeal then headed by Justice Salami.Another senior official of the party also said to be sympathetic to the anti-Salami lobby is the National Vice-Chairman, Southwest, Engr. Segun Oni. Oni like Oyinlola was removed as governor of Ekiti State by the ruling of the Court of Appeal in 2010.
In both cases, they were replaced by Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN candidates in the disputed 2007 gubernatorial elections, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola in Osun and Dr. Kayode Fayemi in Ekiti.
The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, however, disclaimed any internal dissension over the recommendations of the NJC as he insisted that the party being purely a political party would not arbitrate on a judicial matter.
Metuh said yesterday that the presidency was in the best position to take a position on the recommendation being well equipped to analyse the recommendation of the NJC.
“The presidency is in the best position to act on this since it is better positioned and has all the facts pertaining to the matter. The PDP being a political party and not a judicial body is not equipped to comment on such issues since it is not equipped with all the facts,” Metuh said yesterday.
Metuh’s assertion nonetheless, Vanguard learnt that members of the NWC were already mounting pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan not to return Salami to his position.
The lobbyists it was learnt are mounting pressure through the national chairman of the party Alhaji Bamanga Tukur to push their case to the presidency.
Another group within the party it was learnt is, however, pushing a neutral stance on the issue. The group it was learnt is aiming to prevail on the anti-Salami group to await further judicial pronouncements on the Salami matter as they argue that there are many cases on the Salami matter waiting to be concluded.
According to the source, Tukur was said to have refused to be drawn into the matter as he was said to have told his aides that there was the need for him to wait and hear from the President before he could take side on the matter, even as the source added that the PDP National Chairman is of the view that since the party was not actually a party to the removal of the judge from his seat, there was no need for the PDP to be involved in the debate on his reinstatement.
Repeated efforts to get the presidency’s reaction on the issue were not successful.
The NJC had last week recommended the reinstatement of Justice Salami as the President of the Court of Appeal following its earlier recommendation that he be suspended from office at the peak of the face-off between him and the then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Alloysius Katsina-Alu almost a year ago.
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