By our reporter
The Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State has upheld Barrister Onyekachi Nwebonyi as the authentic Chairman of People’s Democratic party PDP but sacked the Fred Udeogu-led PDP Caretaker Committee, describing it as illegal.
The presiding Judge, Justice Aluko Akintayo, in a 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.
Barrister Onyekachi Nwebonyi
Caretaker Committee quashed
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 PDP was illegal and cannot stand”, Akintaye said.
The order followed a suit instituted by Barrister Nnachi Okoro, the Legal Adviser of the Barrister 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.
“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”, Okoro added.
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.
Barrister Igbo Michael who appeared for the defendant in an interview said, they would meet and decide on the next action.
Reacting, Barrister Onyekachi Nwebonyi, welcomed the judgment, saying, it is a victory for democracy.
Nwebonyi said by the outcome of the judgment, he remained the authentic chairman of the party in the state.
Barrister Igbo Michael who appeared for the defendant led counsel, Justice Kenneth Njemanze in an interview said, they would meet and decide on the next action.
The legal adviser to the Fred Udeogu-led PDP executive, Barr Mudi Erhenede, said they would appeal the judgment, adding that they would get a stay of execution against the ruling, pending the determination of substantive appeal.