Seventeen members of a faction of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Ogun State Chapter were on Tuesday arraigned in court over alleged invasion of the party secretariat.
The members were arrested by the police a day after the party’s newly elected chairman, Sikirulai Ogundele, led some members to take over the party secretariat located along Presidential Boulevard, Abeokuta.
On Wednesday, a factional executive of the party led by Dayo Bayo, loyalists of a senator, Buruji Kashamu, retook the secretariat claiming that a federal high court ruling had indicated that they remained in office until 2020.
The Bayo Dayo group also reported the alleged invasion by the new executive to the police which subsequently led to the arrest and arraignment of some of them.
The accused faced a three count charge before Magistrate Court 3, sitting in Abeokuta. The charge borders on breach of peace, contempt of court and disrespect to the magistrate court.
The prosecutor told the court that the accused persons committed offences punishable under section 516, 249(d) and 133(9) criminal code, laws of Ogun State, 2016.
However, all the accused persons pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.
The counsels to the accused persons, Kayode Akinsola and Muyiwa Obanewa, sought bail for their clients.
Messrs Akinsola and Obanewa argued that the offences preferred against the accused persons were bailable, adding that they were presumed innocent until contrary is proven after the trial.
The counsels further argued that the essence of bail was to ensure appearance of the suspects for trial, adding that unless there was a reason to the contrary, the court must grant the bail.
During the proceeding, the police prosecutor, Olakunle Sonibare, did not oppose the application as he was not allowed to talk when he stood up.
Speaking with journalists after the sitting, the prosecutor said he would not have opposed the application but had no choice than to obey the Magistrate.
The Magistrate, Idowu Olayinka, granted the bail to the accused in the sum of N150, 000 with one sureties each in like sum.
Mr. Olayinka declared that the sureties must be residents within the magistrate division and must provide three years tax clearance each.
There has been intense power tussle over the control of the party in the state. The national secretariat, in response constituted a caretaker committee to organise the congress to produce new leadership.
The Bayo Dayo-led faction loyal to Mr. Kashamu, the only senator of the party from the state, argued that a court had pronounced that its tenure would end in 2020. It said it got a court order stopping the caretaker committee from conducting the election of a new state executive committee.
But the national secretariat of the party dissolved the caretaker committee against which the court injunction had been issued. The national secretariat then raised an electoral panel, which organised the congress for the fresh election on Saturday.