How alleged sale of party secretariat tears PDP apart in Ekiti

The scandal surrounding the alleged sale of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is tearing the party apart as RAPHAEL ADEYANJU writes.

Efforts by Ekiti state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to reconcile warring members of the factionalised party has suffered a setback as the state working committee of the party and the immediate past governor, Ayodele Fayose, are now at logger- head over allegation that the former governor sold the newly-constructed party secretariat to himself. 

The state chairman of the party, Barrister Gboyega Oguntuase and members of his executive were reportedly shocked that Fayose announced at a meeting that the party leadership had sold the newly constructed party secretariat.

Party denied sale against Fayose’s stand

The state publicity officer of the party, Mr Jackson Adebayo, while denying the involvement of the party executive in the sale of the building said that Fayose sold the property to himself after fraudulently collecting its documents from the party legal officer.

Before the present face-off between Fayose and the party executive, a leadership tussle between Fayose and Senator Biodun Olujimi, representing Ekiti South Senatorial District in the Senate had torn the party into two groups. The state executive had supported Fayose against Olujimi who challenged the former governor’s alleged over-bearing influence on the party in the state. 

Signs that the Oguntuase-led executive had parted ways with Fayose emerged when the party leadership unsuccessful directed members to shun a meeting that Fayose hosted in his Afao country home. 

 Stating the reason for objecting to the meeting, Oguntuase said, “We are the ears and the eyes of the party. While we are not against any leader calling a meeting, we are insisting on due process. No leader should sidetrack the party in dealing with the party. You can’t sidetrack the State Working Committee in dealing with the party.”

It was at the meeting where the former governor addressed party members across the 177 wards in the state that he allegedly revealed the sale of the property. 

Fayose’s olive branch

While addressing the gathering, Fayose had explained that he was on a mission to repositioning the party. “I know some persons are aggrieved and I know we are humans. I apologise to all those that I have offended; let us come together in unity for this our party not to die in this state. That is my priority as the leader.

“I am doing this after one year I left office just to allow the present All Progressives Congress to display what they have for the people and you can all see for yourselves. I am not here for my selfish interest but just to ensure this party does not fail.”

Fayose who used the meeting to officially congratulate Senator Biodun Olujimi on her recent victory noted that she remains the leader of the party in the state.

 Warning that creating different groups within the party would not be in their best interest, he said, “Everybody should come back to the party. I am open to reconciliation. If Senator Biodun Olujimi call you for meeting tomorrow, go there and listen to her. All of us are leaders; don’t let us factionalise this party. I am congratulating her and I don’t have any issue with her and I am sorry for what happened in the past.”

Secretariat not sold- Party chairman

The Oguntuase-led executive has however continued to deny its involvement in the sale of the party secretariat.  

The state PDP party chairman however insisted that, “We have not sold the secretariat. I want to tell you that any document they say they have is absolute falsehood. It is true he approached me to sign a document, but I told him it was going to be a disservice to the party. I still stand by that.”

The PDP state legal officer, Barrister Sunday Olowolafe, has however punctured Oguntuwase’s claim on the alleged sale of the proposed party secretariat. 

Olowolafe claimed that as the state legal officer of the party, he is privy to all documentary transactions and in custody of duplicate of same and that the party cannot purchase nor sell any property without his knowledge and involvement.

He said, “It is also important to state that I have been in office to complete my predecessor’s tenure before Barrister Gboyega. I am much more in privileged position to speak on issues especially those that borders on documentation and those that transcends his ascension into office.”

Brandishing some documents which are duly signed by Oguntuase and others to indicate that the sale of the building was not without the involvement of the party executives, Olowolafe said that the whole transaction started immediately after the foundation level during the legal tussle between Sheriff Vs. Markafi.

Olowolafe said, “Whereas Oguntuase a lawyer like me was fully a party to this sale upon assumption of office to complete the proposition by his predecessor in office, Chief Idowu Faleye the original owner of the property reneged to fulfill her undertaking to produce the deed of release on the mortgaged property.

 “This necessitated the chairman signing the letter of acceptance of refund dated the January 18, 2017 and if he wants to deny his signature, he should proceed to the court rather than his comical entertainment of the public at the expense of the party’s image.”

According to Olowolafe, the same letter was also signed by the PDP state secretary, Pastor Tope Adejorin and legal adviser. 

“More so, proceed of the sale was remitted into the party’s account in Heritage Bank and same was acknowledged by the party, yet he claimed not to be aware, all in his desperation to malign Ayo Fayose.”

Oguntuase has however, maintained that he has not signed any document to sell the property. 

He alleged that it is true Fayose approached him to sign a document which he refused to sign, saying, “I told him I can’t sign and I did not sign. God of heaven knows that that was exactly what transpired in his house. He even asked me what I want to take and I told him I can’t take such a sacrilegious offering.”

“Our property if it has been sold via fraud shall be recovered thorough legal action that would be taken by this party. We have received assurances from loyal party leaders that they are with us. If they have put somebody’s signature, it must have been signature got through another transaction to have an appearance of legality.

“It is trite in law that the expression of your mind is germane to the making of any document. My mind never signed, the action of signing was not done by me. And I can’t sign a document that I don’t know the buyer. I never met the buyer.”

The legal officer of the party however accused Oguntuase of rubbishing Fayose  with the claim that the former governor was involved in fraudulent sale of the secretariat. According to Olowolafe, the property was properly and legally disposed off at foundation level way back in 2017 upon due consultations with stakeholder’s advice and considerations.

 “How much is a party secretariat valued to a two term governor? This is very shameful,” he retorted. 

Oguntuase also denied claim that the property was sold at foundation level, saying that the party monitored the construction of the building up to the second and third floor. 

“So, it is untrue that we have sold the property and if the governor has done it, he should retrace his step and surrender the document to the party. Up till now, all the documents are with Fayose. If we have sold the property, the document would be in our custody.  He used one of us to take the document illegally from the secretary, “the party chairman explained.