From Chijioke Agwu, Abakaliki.
A Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State on Wednesday sacked the Fred Udeogu-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Caretaker Committee, describing it as illegal.
The Court also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to recognize the purported Caretaker Committee constituted by the National leadership of the PDP in Ebonyi State.
The Court maintained that the dissolution of the Ebonyi state Executive Committee of the party was illegal.
The order followed a Suit instituted by Barrister Nnachi Okoro, the Legal Adviser of the Barr Onyekachi Nwebonyu-led PDP executive in Ebonyi state, that was dissolved last year November by the national leadership of the PDP, in the wake of the defection of Governor David Umahi to the All Progressives Congress.
The Plaintiff, Okoro, had in the Suit, argued that his purported removal from office, as the legal Adviser of the PDP by virtue of the dissolution of the purported State Executive Committee of the Party without fair hearing, was contrary to the Party’s constitution and the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, and urged the court to so hold.
The presiding Judge, Justice Aluko Akintayo, in a three hours judgement, ruled that the purported dissolution of the Executive Committee of the PDP in Ebonyi State which led to the removal of the Plaintiff, was not only absurd, but inconsistent with the provisions of the Party’s constitution as well as the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria.
Justice Akintayo noted that the party acted harshly without any evidence of wrong doing against the Plaintiff, adding that the defection of Governor David Umahi to the APC was in exercise of his fundamental human right of freedom of association and cannot be a justifiable ground to remove the Plaintiff from office.
Akintayo held that the PDP failed to prove before the court, its allegations of anti-party activities and attempts to destabilize the PDP levelled against the Ebonyi State Executive Committee of the party.
According to the judge, even if there is truth in the allegations against the Ebonyi state Executive Committee of the party, it was unfair to have dissolved them including the Plaintiff, without giving him fair hearing.
The Court further ruled that in view of section 2 of the PDP’s constitution, which is subject to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, there was no justification for the leadership of the party to have breached its own constitution.
The Court maintained that the Plaintiff, having been duly elected to serve as the legal Adviser of the PDP, had acquired a vested right to occupy the office until his tenure elapsed.
Consequently, the court declared the action of PDP illegal, null, and void, and ordered the party not to recognize any other legal Adviser in Ebonyi State, until the expiration of the Plaintiff’s tenure.
But in a reaction, Udeogu described the judgement as unacceptable, stressing that he would appeal the judgement.
He enjoined members and supporters of the party in the state not to panic o er the judgement, expressing hope that the appeal court will set aside the judgement.
He said “the judgement is not acceptable to us, we are already on our way for appeal. We will get right judgement on the point of appeal. We have the rectitude to express our feelings over what happened.
“We urge the entire members of our party and the people of Ebonyi state that they should not be deterred, because the appeal court will upturn it”