Anambra Guber: Uncertainty in PDP as Court Dissolves Congresses

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Anambra Guber: Uncertainty in PDP as Court Dissolves Congresses

•Directs PDP to use November 2017 delegate lists

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•New chairman cancels elected ad hoc delegates

With less than a week to the commencement of the governorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Anambra State, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has nullified the Southeast Zonal Congresses, which held on March 6, 2021.

Consequently, the High Court has sacked the state chairman of the party, Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu and replaced him with Ejike Oguebego, while directing the PDP PDP to use the November 2017 delegate lists in conducting its governorship primary election.

Following the news, however, the court-installed chairman, Mr Chukwudi Umeaba, has announced the cancelation of the recently held ward congresses of the party to elect three-man Adhoc delegates for the forthcoming primary election of the party.

But a factional chairman of the party in the state, Mr Ndubuisi Nwobu, while reacting to the court judgement that installed Umeaba, dismissed the ruling as being of no moment and having no consequences on the party, urging his members to disregard it.

The local government congresses that is expected to produce the national delegates that will choose the governorship candidate of the PDP have been scheduled for June 17 2021.

The plaintiff, Samuel Anyakorah had approached Justice O.A. Adeniyi of the High Court of Justice, Abuja Division, seeking among others, the nullification of the March Congresses (1st defendant, PDP) to the extant list of already inaugurated party officers and delegates that emerged “from the Anambra PDP congress conducted on 28 November, 2017 and 1st December, 2017, validated by the Senator Grace Bent Ward Congress Appeal Panel Report under the supervision of Sir Chukwudi Umeaba as acting chairman, State Caretaker Committee.”

In the suit with reference numbered HC/CV/774/2021, Anyakorah, on behalf of himself and all local government chairmen and ward executives, who emerged from the 28th November 2017 and 1st December 2017, by way of originating summons, sought a declaration that by virtue of Article 2 of the Constitution of the PDP (amended in 2017), “the said constitution is supreme,” arguing that it has “a binding force on all members and organs of the PDP and that any action or step taken contrary to the relevant provisions of the constitution is unlawful, illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.”

The plaintiff also argued that it was unlawful for the PDP, “whether during its Southeast Zonal Congress of 6th March 2021, or at any other time, to adopt or publish the name of a state chairman, alongside persons purporting to be EXCO members, local government chairmen and national delegates without recourse to the officers and delegates that emerged in 2017.

He further sought an order nullifying or setting aside all Congresses, designations or appointment made by the PDP with respect to the state chairman for PDP in Anambra State, EXCO members, local government chairmen and national delegates amongst others.

This is as the plaintiff further prayed the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the PDP, its allies or cronies from further recognising or dealing with persons names on pages 14, 15 and 16 of the Bronchure for the South-East Zonal Congress of 6th March, 2021, “either as state Chairman, EXCO members, local government area chairmen or national delegates of PDP, Anambra State chapter.

In its judgment of June 9, 2021, the court upheld the prayer of the plaintiff, citing Article 2 of the PDP constitution,

According to Justice Adeniyi, after listening to the claimant, Anyakora, local government chairmenand ward executives that emerged from the Anambra PDP Congresses conducted on November 28 2017 under the supervision of the chairman state caretaker committee said, “I find merit in the Claimant’s case and the same hereby succeeds. For avoidance of doubts and abundance of clarity, it is hereby adjudged as follows:

“It is hereby declared that by virtue of Article 2 of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party (amended in 2017), the said Constitution is supreme and it has a binding force on all members and organs of the Peoples Democratic Party, and any action or step taken contrary to the relevant provisions of the Constitution is unlawful, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever.

“It is hereby further declared that it is unlawful for the 1 Defendant, (PDP) whether during its Southeast Zonal Congress of 6th March, 2021, or at any time to adopt or publish the name of a State Chairman, alongside persons purporting to be his Exco members, Local Government Chairmen and National Delegates, without recourse to the extant List of already inaugurated Party Officers and Delegated that emerged from the Anambra PDP Congresses conducted on 28th November, 2017 and 1 December, 2017 validated by the Senator Grace Bent Ward Congress Appeal Panel or and Barrister Ukpai Ukairo Local Covernment Appeal Panel Report, under the supervision of Sir Chukwudi Umeaba, as Acting Chairman, State Caretaker Committee.

“It is hereby further declared that the arbitrary imposition by the 1st Defendant on its members of a State Chairman, Exco members, Local Government Chairmen and National Delegates, as contained atPages 14. 15 & 16 of the Defendant’s Brochure for the Southeast Zonal Congress of 6th March, 2021, in ultra vires its power, unlawful, invalid, void and of no effcet whatsoever”, Justice Adebiyi declared.

In view of this, Justice Adebiyi further ordered that, “All Congresses, designations or appointments made by the 1st Defendant with respect to the positions of the State Chairman of PDP Anambra State Chapter, Exco Members and Local Government Chairmen, as contained at Pages 14, 15 & 16 of the Southeast Zonal Congress Brochure of 6th March, 2021, are hereby nullified and set aside for being invalid, unlawful and ultra vires the powers of the 1st Defendant, the same not being in alignment with the List of already inaugurated Party Officers and Delegates that emerged from the Anambra PDP Congresses conducted on 28th November, 2017 and 1st December, 2017, valided by the Senator Grace Bent Ward Congress Appeal Panel Report and Barrister Ukpai Ukairo Local Government Appeal Panel Report, under the supervision of Sir Chukwudi Umeaba, as State Caretaker Committee. Acting Chairman.”

Accordingly, Justice Adebiyi said the “first defendant is hereby ordered and compelled that during the conduct of all elections in Anambra State, to henceforth adopt, employ, recognise and use only the list of already inaugurated Party Officers and Delegates that emerged from the Anambra PDP Congresses conducted on 28th November, 2017 and 1st December, 2017 validated by the Senator Grace Bent Ward Congress Appeal Panel Report and Barrister Ukpai Ukairo Local Government Appeal Panel Report, under the supervision of Sir Chukwudi Umeaba, who shall continue to act in the capacities for which they were duly elected.

“An Order of injunction is hereby issued, restraining the 1st Defendant, whether by itself, cronies, allies or representatives, from further recognising, dealing with or parading any person or group of persons listed at pages 14, 15 & 16 of the Brochure for the Southeast Zonal Congress of 6th March 2021, either as State Chairman, Exco members or Local Government Area Chairmen of the Peoples Democratic Party, Anambra State Chapter, except the list of already inaugurated Party Officers and Delegates that emerged from the Anambra PDP Congresses conducted on 28th November, 2017 and 1st December, 2017 the Senator Grace Bent Ward Congress Appeal Panel Report and Barrister Ukpai Ukairo Local Government Appeal Panel Report, under the supervision of Sir Chukwudi Umeaba.”

He contended that all parties shall bear their respective costs of the action.

The implication of this is that unless the party succeeds at the appellate court, if it chooses to challenge the ruling of the lower court, it may find itself fielding parallel delegates in the November 6 election, which may call for the replication of the Zamfara scenario, which cost the All Progressives Congress, the North Western state in 2019.

How the Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee (NWC) handles this slippery judicial rulingwill determine the fate of the party in Anambra, a state it governed for some years before losing out to the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).

However, Umeaba, at a press conference yesterday told journalists that: “Based on the above (his reinstatement), I, Hon Chukwudi Umeaba, the acting chairman caretaker committee of PDP, Anambra State, working in concert with the terms of reference and the powers of my office will make pronouncements.

“I hereby suspend the ward congress of 9th June to elect a three-man Adhoc committee for the governorship primary. I will contact the NEC of our great party to give me a new date for the ward congresses that will elect the three-man ad hoc committee for the governorship primary.”

He urged the party members to keep calm and look forward to new developments as his leadership was out to ensure growth of the party in the state. He insisted that the primary election would go on as planned, and would not be truncated by the change in leadership.

Meanwhile, the emergence of a new chairman of the party in the state has polarised the party, leaving many of its members switching camp to the faction of the new leadership.

A chieftain of the party, Mr Samuel Anyakorah, who was at the press conference described the Umeaba-led party as the authentic leadership of the party, having been unjustly removed in 2017.

“I was the one who dragged the party to court, because of that unjust act. We wrote to the then national vice chairman of South east, Mr Austin Umahi and even to His Excellency, Uche Secondus, but they ignored us.

“That was why we went to court, and thank God today, the authentic leadership of the party has been restored. You can see how happy everybody is. We hope that the party will move on now.”

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