Author Topic: How court stopped Nwodo, PDP chair  (Read 2052 times)

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How court stopped Nwodo, PDP chair
« on: January 14, 2011, 10:20:10 AM »
How court stopped Nwodo, PDP chair


LAGOS—INTRIGUES are never in short supply in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. On the eve of its presidential primaries, an Enugu High Court presided over by Justice Onuorah, yesterday, granted an interim injunction restraining PDP’s  National Chairman, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, from parading himself as a member and as an officer of the party.

Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo

Coming barely 24 hours to the National Convention of the PDP in Abuja, the court order is the climax of the crisis that has fractionalized the Enugu State chapter of the party since the emergence of Nwodo as the party’s leader.

Justice Onuorah granted the order following a motion ex_parte in suit E/449/2010 filed by Mr. Collins Amalu (a member of the PDP in Enugu) and supported by a written address and an affidavit of eight paragraphs he swore to requesting that Nwodo be removed from the party on the grounds that he was not a card-carrying member of PDP.

Preliminary objection

Nwodo’s counsel, Okafor, SAN, and Dr. Mike Ajogwu, SAN, were not in court when Justice Onuorah gave the order.
The order came as Nwodo insisted that he remained the chairman of the PDP and filed a preliminary objection against the suit calling for his removal at an Abuja Federal High Court, yesterday. Besides, the PDP leader said he had not been served the court papers.

The Plaintiff, Amalu dismissed as false comments that he was being sponsored by the Enugu State Government just as Governor Sullivan Chime’s group in the Enugu PDP crisis condemned the interim order and dissociated itself from the matter.

The issue elicited mixed reactions from leading lawyers and politicians, who were divided on whether or not courts’ intervention in internal affairs of political parties could hurt the polity and the democratic process.

Among those who spoke on the matter are Prof. Itse Sagay, SAN, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN; Mr. Lawal-Rabana, SAN; Mr. Emeka Ngige, SAN; Prof. Chidi Odinkalu; former Senate President Adolphus Wabara; former Works Minister, Sen. Adeseye Ogunlewe and Mr. Dave Ajetunmobi.

My appointment as PDP national chairman is in order – Nwodo

The PDP National Chairman, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo, yesterday, at an Abuja Federal High Court filed a preliminary objection against a suit calling for his removal.

Chief E.C Ukala, counsel to Nwodo, who filed the objection, argued that the appointment of his client was totally an internal affair of the party.

Ukala further argued that the court lacked that inherent jurisdiction to entertain the matter as the plaintiff had abused the court process in the matter.

Mr. Ikenga Ugochinyere filed a suit  in  June, 2010 challenging  the selection of the second defendant (Nwodo) by the first defendant (PDP) as the National Chairman of the party.

Mr Innocent Onwu, counsel to the plaintiff, argued that the appointment of  Nwodo as National Chairman of the party violated Section 85 of the Electoral Act of 2006 and the party’s constitution.

He argued that the action of the party regarding the appointment of Nwodo as its National Chairman also  contravened Sections 221, 222, 223, 224 as well as 225 of the 1999 Constitution.

Justice Daniel Kolawole adjourned the matter till January 28.

I have not been served any court order, says Nwodo

Besides, Nwodo denied receiving any court order restraining him from parading himself as chairman of the party.
Vanguard gathered that when the court bailiff arrived the Wadata Plaza, National Secretariat of the party to serve Nwodo the court paper, security men stopped him from delivering the message.

A source said that Nwodo who knew that the bailiff was at the Secretariat, had to leave the secretariat to ensure that he was not served the papers, even as he was not sighted in the office in spite of the fact that his office was like a Mecca following the bombardment of several aggrieved party members who had come to complain of the outcome of the Senatorial and governorship primaries.

Another source said he had to leave the National Secretariat of the party for the Presidential Villa to brief President Goodluck Jonathan on the present political scenario, just as a staff lamented that the development had hampered the planning of the convention because “there are many issues waiting for his attention.”

Why I moved against Nwodo – Plaintiff

Amalu who claimed to be a native of Okwe Amankwo, Ngwo, in Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State, same Local Council with Governor Chime, was represented by a team of lawyers led by Chief Mrs. Justina Offia, SAN.

Offia moved the motion on notice dated December 6, 2010 filed by Amalu’s counsel, Alhaji Abdulaziz C. Ogbui. In the application, the plaintiff sought “an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendant/respondent (Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo), from holding himself out, and /or allowing himself to be held out, as a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (“Party”) and or an officer the party, to wit – the national chairman of the party, andor exercising the rights, powers and or functions of a member and an officer of the party and or enjoying any privilege as a member and or officer of the party.

Supporting his claim in an affidavit sworn to at the High Court registry in Enugu on December 6, 2010, the applicant, Mr. Amalu declared: “That I am a bona fide card_carrying member of the Peoples Democratic Party (“PDP” or “Party”) from Ngwo Ward Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State.

The motion ex_parte was formally moved on December 20, 2010 by Mrs. Offia, SAN, on behalf of the plaintiff and upon hearing her submissions and that of the counsel for the defendant, Prof. Ilochi Okafor, SAN, the presiding judge reserved ruling till yesterday.

Chime not sponsoring me – Amalu
Speaking with Vanguard, yesterday,  Amalu denied being sponsored by Governor Sullivan Chime or the Enugu State Government saying he had never met with the governor before.

“I don’t know the state government, I am not part of the government, I am part of PDP. I am an independent man. My names are Hon. Collins Amalu, a proprietor of a Nursery, Primary and Secondary School at 9th Mile, a card-carrying member of PDP from Ngwo-Unor Ward in Enugu State of Nigeria. Before I started my case and until now that I am talking to you, I have not seen the governor not to talk of speaking with him.”

He praised the judiciary for being responsive to the outcry of the poor masses in the country, adding that the judiciary had proved that it is truly where the common man can go and obtain justice.

Enugu PDP dissociates self from order
However, the state chapter of the PDP expressed shock over the order, which it described as unfortunate and distanced itself and Governor Chime from it. It said it remained committed to the peace terms brokered by the national leadership of the party and had discontinued all litigation.

A statement  by the State Chairman of the party, Engr. Vita Abba, said: “The attention of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Enugu State Chapter has been drawn with total dismay to the interim order by an Enugu High Court restraining Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo from acting as the National Chairman of our great Party, the PDP.

“The state chapter of the party feels deeply shocked over the court ruling which is coming at a time the party has made substantive efforts in resolving the differences between our Governor and the National Chairman of the Party. The Party, therefore, wishes to disassociate itself and the leader of the Party in the State, Governor Sullivan Chime from this inglorious move by some mischief makers, who are bent on exploiting every fiendish plot to instigate more crises in the Party across the country.

Sagay, Ozekhome, Wabara, others react

Commenting on the issue yesterday, Ozekhome said “the judiciary must be given kudos for its interventionist pills for our national survival. The judiciary continues to serve as the bulwark against tyranny, whether the tyranny of the minority or the tyranny of the majority or the tyranny of military dictatorship or civilian dictatorship.”

Speaking on its implication for PDP primaries beginning today, the fiery lawyer said: “Nwodo’s sack does not have any effect on PDP primaries. Neither the PDP constitution nor Nigerian constitution nor the Electoral Act stipulates that a party chairman must be present during its primaries. It is a joint responsibility of the National Working Committee of the PDP, the presidential primary panel and INEC officials.”

However, Wabara said it was  a pity that “once again  the judiciary is trying to interfere with the process of our democracy. The state judge has unfortunately given the judgment and thank God there are processes for an appeal and I am sure our chairman will go on appeal for stay of execution or stay of action, so when the appeal goes on, the elections would have been over and the case might move up to the Supreme court.

“So, I think the timing is wrong, the timing of such judgment is wrong, it is capable of causing national calamity but I am sure our party, we are law abiding and we respect the law, the party will go on appeal and I can assure you that Chief Nwodo will remain the National Chairman.”

On his part, Sagay said the order was laden with political undertone and could elicit more litigation.
He said: “There is no legal implications to his removal since there is a deputy national chairman who can step in and continue from where he (Nwodo) stopped. His (Nwodo’s) removal has political undertone. His removal can lead to upheavals within the party. There will be internal wrangling within the PDP which could end up in the law courts.”

In like manner, Ogunlewe said the order would not hurt PDP primaries because he had set the machinery for a successful exercise in motion. “He has already set up committees that will organise and conduct the presidential primaries. These committees will ensure the convention is successful. Nwodo has very little to do with the PDP presidential primaries, in fact, his removal will not affect the primaries.”

For  Lawal-Rabana, former Secretary General of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA if the  High Court, Enugu did remove Nwodo on the ground that the waiver granted him was not proper, then “ the decision runs contrary to spirit of the apex court decision that says that such matters are intra-party matters for which the court should not interfere.

Secondly, the timing is very wrong because the PDP’s primaries will start today and he has a key role to play in the exercise. One only hopes that the decision will not have an adverse effect on the party (PDP) congress.”

Relatedly, Ngige averred that the order was expected but cautioned that “the judiciary and the court have to be careful in involving itself in political matters, especially the one dealing with issues of internal politics of political parties.”



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