Abuja Fed. High Court Upholds Enugu PDP Ward Congress

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…As Judge withdraws from Enugu Suit, alleging threats to life
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja today upheld the November 1, 2014 Ward Congresses conducted by the Enugu State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The position of the Court was made known by Justice A.F.A Ademola while ruling on suit (No. FHC/ABJ//CS/816/2014) filed by the Plaintiffs, Mr. Orji Chinenye Godwin, Chiefs Cletus C. Akalusi and Orji C. Orji on behalf of themselves and all Delegates elected on November 1, 2014 Ward Congress with the PDP, the National Chairman and the National Organising Secretary as well as the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC as Defendants.
This is even as Justice A.R Ozoemena of the Enugu State High Court has withdrawn from hearing the suit (No. E/439/2014), brought before it by Chief Ikeje Asogwa praying the court to uphold his purported appointment as the Chairman of the Enugu State chapter of the PDP and also restrain the Defendant, who is the Deputy Chairman (now Acting Chairman) of the Enugu State chapter of the PDP from parading himself as the Chairman of the state’s PDP.
The Plaintiffs in the case heard by the Federal High Court, Abuja, had, among others, sought the declaration by the Court that the list of delegates is the only valid list for the PDP delegates for primaries in Enugu State to the exclusion of all other lists.

It also sought an order restraining the INEC from accepting any other list of delegates for the PDP primaries in the State.

Ruling in the suit, Justice A.F.A Ademola held that a valid ward congress for the election of three-man man delegate from the 260 Electoral Wards of Enugu State took place in Enugu State on November 1, 2014 and that the list before it remained the valid list candidates returned at the election.
On their part, the Defendants had raised the issue of jurisdiction of the court contending that the suit dealt with internal matters of the PDP.
The court however held that it had jurisdiction to hear the suit because the matters in contention were not simply the internal matter of the PDP. It also held that the delegates had been duly elected, had certain rights, and could therefore ask the court to protect their rights as delegates.

Justice Ozoemena could not proceed with ruling on Motion on Notice at the Enugu State High Court in the suit brought by Chief Ikeja Asogwa challenging the claim to the chairmanship of the Enugu State chapter of the party by the State Deputy Chairman, Elder David Aja.
Justice Ozoemena had on November 14, 2014 taken full arguments on the Motion on Notice and adjourned the matter for November 24 for the ruling of the court.
However, when the case came up for ruling today, the learned Judge told the Court that he had been receiving threat calls and messages on his phones and could therefore not go on with the case.
While lawyer to Chief Asogwa, Mrs. Offiah, SAN, described the scenario as unfortunate, counsel to the Defendant, Mr. Ogochukwu Onyekwuluje, held that the proper thing to do was for the learned Judge to petition the Police and make available to them the phone numbers in question for thorough investigations that would bring the culprits to book.
However, withdrawing himself completely from the case, Justice Ozoemena held that the case file be returned to the Registrar of the Enugu State High Court for onward transmission to the Chief Judge of the Enugu State High Court, Justice Innocent Umezulike, for reassignment.
It could be recalled that arguing the Motion on Notice on November 14, counsel to Elder Aja had challenged the jurisdiction of the Court to hear the case as the matter was a subject of an ongoing litigation at a Court of coordinate jurisdiction. He had urged the court to strike out the suit on grounds of abuse of court process.
It could be further recalled that only last Tuesday (November 18, 2014), the Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice E.S Chukwu additionally ruled in the said suit (FHC/AB/CS/782/2014 Elder David Aja Vs PDP and Others) and declared Elder David Aja as the authentic Chairman of Enugu State chapter of the PDP pending the appointment of another Chairman from the area where the immediate past Chairman of the party hails from.
This had heightened expectations that the Enugu State High Court would today strike out the suit by Chief Asogwa as well as the ex-parte injunction already granted.
The Federal High Court also held that
having regard to the provisions of Sections 24, 35(1) and 45 of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party 2012 (as amended), and following the resignation of Engr. Vita Abba, as the Chairman of the Enugu State Chapter of the Enugu State chapter of the PDP, any meeting of the State Executive Committee (SEC) of the Enugu State Chapter, could not be valid unless summoned by Elder Aja on his own, or at the request of two thirds of the members of the SEC.
It further held that Chief Asogwa was not entitled to hold himself out or perform the function of the Chairman of the Enugu State Chapter of the PDP “not having been validly appointed”.
It therefore ordered Chief Asogwa not to carry out the functions of a Chairman or interfere with Elder Aja in the course of carrying out his duties as the Chairman, while also declaring all acts of Chief Asogwa as Chairman of the Enugu State PDP as illegal, null, and void.
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