By Chinelo Obogo, Fred Itua and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja


A High Court in Benue State has granted an interim order restraining Iyorchia Ayu from parading himself as National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) pending the determination of the substantive suit which has been adjourned to April 17, 2023 for hearing.

The presiding judge, W.I Kpochi gave the order, yesterday, while ruling on a motion ex parte filed by Conrad Terhide Utaan, a PDP member, and marked MHC/633/2023.

The applicant sought from the court: “An order of interim injunction, restraining the 1st defendant, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu from parading himself as the national chairman of the PDP, having lost membership of the party, pending the hearing and determination of Motion on Notice already filed.”

The application was supported by a 15-paragraph affidavit to which is annexed three exhibits which are the applicant’s membership card of the second defendant, receipts for payment of dues and a vote of no confidence passed on Ayu. 

Ayu was suspended on Sunday by his Igyorov ward in Gboko Local Government Area for alleged anti-party actives and not paying his annual dues among reasons.

Secretary of the ward, Vangeryina Dooyum, said the decision to suspend Ayu was reached after the leadership reviewed his conduct at the end of the just-concluded general election.

The PDP lost the presidential election in Benue to the APC whose candidate, Bola Tinubu, also emerged as president-elect. The PDP, which currently governs Benue, also lost two of the three senatorial seats and 11 of the 12 House of Representatives seats to the APC.

Mr Dooyum alleged that the party found out that many of Ayu’s closest allies worked for the APC, hence, the abysmal performance of the PDP in Igyorov Ward.

“In view of the foregoing, we hereby pass a vote of no confidence in Dr. Iyorchia Ayu and suspend him as a member of our party with immediate effect. The suspension takes effect from March 24, 2023,” he said. 

•Suspension exercise in futility – Ayu

Ayu has, however, dismissed his suspension by his ward as an exercise in futility and should be disregarded.

Reacting in a statement issued by his media aide, Imobo-Tswam, Ayu said only the national executive committee (NEC), the highest decision-making organ of the party, can suspend a national chairman.

“For starters, Article 57(7) of the PDP Constitution as Amended in 2017, expressly prohibits any organ of the party or executive committee of the party at the Ward or State Level from taking any disciplinary measure against any member of the party’s National Executive Committee. The purported suspension is, therefore, an exercise in futility as it derives its strength majorly from gross illiteracy, ignorance, gambling and desperation. It has only mischief, drama and propaganda value.”

Ayu alleged that the so-called suspension letter was written by an illiterate, and only given to coerced members to sign somewhere in Makurdi.

“This is why the original date is tipexed and 24 March imposed on it. From what we know, the document itself is fraudulent as the signatures of the Ward Executives were forged or obtained under duress. The chairman, his deputy and legal adviser didn’t sign the letter. The 14th person on the list didn’t sign too. In fact, the same applies for Nos. 5, 8 and 16. At the time they were supposed to be in Makurdi, the others coerced, intimidated and induced members of the Exco, they were actually in their villages, going about their normal businesses.”

He advised the general public to ignore rumours to the “heinous effect,” saying “those behind the plot are only investing in expensive illusions.”

•Our signatures forged, Benue ward Excos

The executive committee members of the PDP in Igyorov Ward have distanced themselves from the suspension of Ayu.

In a letter addressed to the PDP chairman in Gboko LGA, the committee members said the suspension was made without due process and proper consultation with all relevant stakeholders, adding that their signatures were forged to issue the “mischievous letter” announcing Ayu’s suspension.

“The purported signatures on the letter are forged and no member of PDP Executive Committee of Igyorov Council Ward have signed that letter nor caused to be signed on his or her behalf.

“The names of the Executive Committee members are wrongly written and spellt which showed the desperation of the mischief-makers. The content of the purported letter itself is contradictory on the holding of the presidential and National Assembly Elections on March 25, 2023 while the letter itself is dated 24 March, 2023.

“The letter was written before the purported Commission of the offence which shows clearly that it is the hand work of the mischief makers,” the letter read.

•Fight has just started, Wike tells Ayu

Meanwhile, Governor Wike has told Ayu that his ouster was the beginning of the fight to save the party.

The governor said it was unthinkable to allow someone who was unable to deliver his political unit, ward, local government and state to remain as chairman.

Wike spoke, yesterday, during the inauguration of the remodelled Community Secondary School in Okoro-nu-Odo, in Obio-Akpor Local Government Area of the State.

“Ask them, those who want to be chairman of this party (PDP), what do you have to give to the party now? Presidential election; you took bribe, and lost in your unit, lost in your ward, lost in your local government and lost in your State. Which party will you preside over now?”

Wike said it was God who hardened Ayu’s heart not resign when the G-5 governors and members of Integrity Group demanded his resignation after the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as presidential candidate.

He said  if Ayu had resigned then, his cohorts who were opposed to the zoning of elective and appointive offices would have used that as an excuse for the party’s abysmal performance in the just concluded general elections.

The governor said it would be morally offensive for Ayu to remain as national chairman after the catastrophic defeat of the party under his watch  in his unit, ward, local government, State and national. 

 According to him,  the suspension of Ayu was the beginning of the fight to save the party.

“Those of you who are fighting that they have suspended him, you have not seen anything yet. The fight has started. Ayu, the fight has just started. If you know him, those of you who are close to him, tell him, Iyorchia Ayu, the fight has just started.”

Wike said instead of  Ayu using his position to strengthen the grip of PDP of Benue State, he allowed it slip off him. He said other PDP controlled states would not sustain the party financially and tolerate Ayu as their chairman.

“Will you preside over the one (Rivers PDP) I have secured victory for? You want to come and preside over this state (Rivers) so that we will begin to donate money to the party? You, bring your own state to the party too so that your state can contribute money to the national. If you don’t deliver your state, you can’t preside over us. You cannot…Look at somebody who did anti-party, he is suspending people. The chief priest of anti-party, native doctor of anti-party suspending those who have worked hard for this party. All of you who are joining Ayu, be prepared. Now, I have no other job, the job I have now is to put more heat on them and I will continue to do that.”

Wike pointed out the nullity of the purported summoning of members by the National Working Committee to Abuja to meet and pronounce the suspension as illegal.

“If you like, let the National Secretary rush to Abuja. Let them meet this afternoon and say the suspension is illegal, you will see what you will face. You are calling us small boys, you will see what small boys can do to you.”

 The governor said  those who thought they could toy  with Rivers State and not be dealt with squarely could  begin to lick their wounds because they have been “peppered.”