Crisis in Cross River PDP Over Ward and State Congress, As State Party Chairman is Suspended

In what can be considered a supremacy battle over who calls the shot in 2023, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Cross River State is in a crisis that might tear the party apart.

The Beginning

Following the announcement of ward and state congresses across the state to elect new party officials, Some members of the party said to loyal to serving National Assembly Members from the state under the aegis of Movement for the Restoration of Cross River (MFTROCR) accused the Governor of planning to hijack the congress and installing stooges who will give him a smooth sail in 2023
In a release made available to journalists and signed by the MFTROCR Coordinator and Secretary, Messrs. Raymond Takom, and Emmanuel Agba, they accused the Governor of hoarding forms for elections and asked that the ward congress which was scheduled to hold on Saturday, March 7, 2020, be made transparent.

“In 2016 congresses, the governor took all the congress materials, excluded every other stakeholder, including the then incumbent party chairman, Ntuhan Okon, and produced all the party executives from ward to state levels and we kept quiet”.

The group said the governor was planning on adopting the same tactics in 2020, saying, “Those who want to contest various party offices at wards, chapter and state have no access to the forms because the commissioners have hoarded it to the exclusion of state, National Assembly members and others who are critical stakeholders in this business.”

Reacting, a group made up of the 39 commissioners and who identify themselves as Cross River State concerned Patriots (CRCP) said the Governor as leader of the party in the State has the right to handpick anyone as party official from the ward to the zonal level.
The group threatened to initiate the recall of serving lawmakers in the party who refuses to fall in-line.
In a press conference held in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, Dr. Jake Enyia, Spokesperson of the group and Commissioner for Aviation, said lawmakers under the PDP from the state were fermenting trouble within the party by sponsoring protest in Abuja.
He said: “We are grateful to the makers of the constitution that makes provision for recall. This instrument of checking the excesses of our elected representatives is in our hands. The time is now to set it in motion.”

After  congress

After the congress, the National Secretariat of the party in a cover letter to a list addressed to the State Chairman, Ntufam Inok and signed by Col. Austin Akobundu (Rtd.) the National Organizing Secretary of the party and dated the 26th day of April 2020 with reference number PDP/DOM/GF.V/VOL.2/20-387B approved new names for ward, local government, and executive committee members for the party in the state.
The letter reads in part; “Following the successful conduct of the Ward and Local Government Congresses of our Party in Cross River State on Saturday, March 07 and Saturday, March 21, 2020, respectively,
“For the purpose of electing new Ward and LGA Executives, the National Working Committee (NWC) of our great Party, after giving careful consideration to the reports of the Electoral Committee and the Appeal panel, has, on behalf of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Party, approved the said Congresses and the Executive Committees emerging therefrom.
“Accordingly, I hereby forward to you the authentic list of the Ward and Local Government Executives for all the 196 Wards and 18 LGAs of your State as contained in the attached lists of Names of Approved Ward and LGA Exco Members.”

Stakeholders of the party backed by members in the national assembly applauded the list released from the national secretariat, saying it was a true reflection of the congress.

Raymond Takom of the  Movement for the Restoration of Cross River PDP, (MFTROCR), said the list took care of all vested interest and wondered why some people were kicking against it.

His words: “What the party has done by releasing an authentic list of wards and local government chapters executives and duly signed by the national organizing secretary is worthy of commendation and emulation. The list sent to the governor and state party chairmen is a reflection of what happened during the congresses. “ he stated.

Inauguration Day
While the party leadership said it was still going through the list, sources said the state party chairman, Ntufam Edim, and other officials loyal to the Governor refused to acknowledge the list saying it was not the true representation of the congress conducted last month across the state.
Amidst heavily armed policemen blocking access to the party secretariat, the inauguration was taunted not to hold, But in a twist of event, a Notary Public, Okimasi Ojong, Esq, principal partner of Barr Okimasi Ojong and co, said he had sworn in the ward executive committee members of the party in accordance with the provisions of Section 65 of the PDP constitution as amended in 2017.
Okimasi Ojong, in a letter, addressed to the party through the State Legal Adviser, said;

“that upon submission of the duly completed oath of office and oath of allegiance form today Thursday 30th April 2020 by 7:30 am and in line with the provisions of Section 65 of the People’s Democratic Party, the newly elected ward executive officers of your party whose names were verified and contained in a letter with reference N0. PDP/DOM/GF.V/VOL.2/20-387B are admitted to Oath and therefore sworn in already to function in their various offices.” The letter reads.

Ayade fights back
In what can only be considered as a desperate move, a news portal managed by Andrea Ekeng, an aide to the Governor on strategic communication, CRNEWSBULLETINE.COM, posted a story with the caption, ‘Breaking: Court throws out fake PDP list, say only State can inaugurate local chapters’.
The two-paragraph report did not say when the case was filled, where it was filled, and who or when the judgment was delivered. A day later, the same site posted another story with the caption ‘See authentic PDP List for CRS (Wards and LGA chapters)’ with a google drive link to a list different from the one earlier sent to the state by the National Secretariat of the party.
But the PDP in a letter posted on their social media handle quickly disassociated itself from the list being shared by the Governor’s camp and insisted that the authentic list was the one sent to State on 27th April 2020.

Suspension of State Party Chairman
The executive members of Calabar Municipality, Ward 3 announced the suspension of the State Party Chairman from the party in the ward.

In a letter addressed to the National Chairman of the party and, the ward executives announced the suspension of the state party chairman.

The letter dated 1st May 2020 and signed by Mr. Peter Ika and Mr. Nsa Ekpo, Ward Chairman and Ward secretary respectively of Ward 3 in Calabar Municipality reads;
“We discovered with shame and dismay the conduct of our member from the ward and who is the State Party Chairman of PDP in Cross River State-Ntufam Edim Inok as exhibited on the 30th of April, 2020 at the State Party Secretariat.”

The letter further stated that the suspended chairman “labeled the National Working Committee as demons, criminals” and that those actions “run contrary to the provisions of the party constitution as contained in Chapter 10, section 58, sub 1, b,c, and H respectively” and that he is “suspended for an initial period of one (1) month”.

Ntufam Edim Inok did not respond to inquiries for comments.

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