Court sacks Ebonyi PDP caretaker committee

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A Federal High Court in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, has sacked the Fred Udogu-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Caretaker Committee. The court described the committee as illegal.

The court also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to recognise the purported committee constituted by the PDP national leadership. It maintained that the dissolution of the state Executive Committee was illegal and cannot stand.

The order followed a suit by Nnachi Okoro, legal adviser to the Onyekachi Nwebonyi-led PDP executive, which was dissolved in November 2020 after Governor David Umahi defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Okoro argued that his purported removal from office by virtue of the dissolution of the state executive, and without fair hearing, was contrary to the party’s and Nigeria’s constitution.

Justice Aluko Akintayo ruled that the dissolution was absurd and inconsistent with the party’s and Nigeria’s constitution.

He noted that the party acted harshly without any evidence of wrong-doing against the plaintiff, adding that Governor Umahi’s defection to the APC was in exercise of his fundamental right of freedom of association, and cannot be a justifiable ground to remove Okoro from office.

The court maintained that the plaintiff, having been duly elected to serve as PDP legal adviser, had acquired a vested right to occupy the office until his tenure elapsed.

Consequently, the court declared the PDP action illegal, null, and void, and ordered the party not to recognise any other legal adviser until the expiration of Okoro’s tenure.

Igbo Michael, who appeared for the defendants’ lawyer, Kenneth Jamanze, said they would meet and decide on the next action.

Nwebonyi welcomed the judgment, and described it is a victory for democracy.

But lawyer to the Fred Udeogu-led executive, Mudi Erhenede, said they would appeal the judgment. He added that they would get a stay of execution against the ruling pending the determination of a substantive appeal.

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