Court sacks Ebonyi State PDP Chairman

Salihu Ali, Abuja

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A Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria, has sacked the incumbent chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Ebonyi State, Southern Nigeria, Mr Tochukwu Okorie, from office for failing to meet conditions for the party’s Congress.

The court, however, returned Mr Joseph Silas Onu as the duly elected chairman, who fulfilled on the Party Congress held on October 16, 2021.

Plaintiff Mr Onu had petitioned the Ebonyi State PDP and the incumbent chairman of the state party, Mr Okorie, alleging that he failed to meet the minimum requirements for nomination and therefore did not qualify to contest in the election.

The plaintiff further claimed that Mr Okorie failed to meet the party’s deadline for purchasing and submitting forms, alleging that the party had a preset template for his emergence as the party’s chairman in Ebonyi State.

In a judgment, Justice Ahmed Mohammed held that the second defendant, Mr Okorie, did not qualify to contest the party’s Chairmanship position in Ebonyi State.

According to him, “it is the finding of this court that the 2nd defendant (Okorie) who submitted his nomination form on October 4, 2021, instead of October 1, 2021, contrary to the guidelines of the conduct of congresses is not validly nominated.

“The second defendant’s nomination is hereby rendered ineffective because he did not submit his forms within the time frame,” said Justice Mohammed.

The judge said that “he was therefore not qualified to contest in the said election of October 16, 2021.

“It is the opinion of this court that the 2nd defendant, who was indolent in submitting his nomination form as provided in the guidelines issued by the PDP, was still declared and returned elected, cannot be allowed to benefit from his wrongdoing.”

Justice Mohammed consequently directed the PDP to hold that only Onu was lawfully nominated to participate in the election of October 16, 2021, and to issue him a certificate of return declaring him as the duly elected chairman of the PDP Ebonyi Chapter.

He also granted the prayer asking for a declaration that the 2nd defendant’s participation in the said election was contrary to the clear and unambiguous schedule for the conduct of state congresses, therefore rendering such participation null and void.

The second defendant, who was indolent, was not validly nominated and therefore not qualified to contest or be allowed to benefit from his wrongdoings.

The judge also dismissed the claim that the court has no jurisdiction to hear the suit.

Earlier, he had dismissed the preliminary objection filed by the PDP, which alleged that Onu did not exhaust the internal mechanisms available for resolving such party matters before heading to court.

Speaking on the judgement, Counsel to the Plaintiff, Mr Ahmed Uwais, described the judgment as erudite and has prevailed justice.

“The industry used by the judge is proficient.”

Reacting to the judgement, Mr Joseph Silas Onu expressed happiness with the judgment and promised to work to better the party in Ebonyi State.

Recalled that, the Ebonyi State Chapter of the PDP had, on October 16, 2021, elected Okorie as the new chairman of the party in the state, where he polled 1,240 votes to defeat Onu, the former state publicity secretary of the party who scored 260 votes.

 

E/Suzan O.

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