A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, declared Sen. Samuel Anyanwu as the valid national secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment, made an order of injunction, restraining the national leadership of the PDP from appointing any person as acting national secretary when Anyanwu’s four-year tenure is still running and subsisting until Dec. 9, 2025, in line with party’s constitution.
Justice Ekwo also declared that any meeting held or resolution reached by the party to prematurely remove or prevent Anyanwu from exercising the powers of his office would be in violation of Article 47 (1) of the PDP Constitution (as amended in 2017), hence, becomes null and void and of no effect.
The judge also restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) “from recognising any purported appointment of any person as national secretary of the party whether in acting capacity or otherwise other than Anyanwu, the elected national secretary of the 1st defendant (PDP).”
The court had, on Nov. 23, 2023, stopped the PDP from removing Anyanwu as national secretary pending the hearing and determination of the substantive matter.
The order followed an ex-parte motion by Dr Joshua Musa, SAN, on behalf of two members of the party; Geoffrey Ihentuge and Apollo’s Godspower.
While Ihentuge is the Ikeduru Local Government chairman of the PDP in Imo, Godspower is the PDP chairman in Owerri Municipal Local Government of the state.
The plaintiffs had sued the PDP; Umar Damagun, party’s acting national chairman; National Executive Committee (NEC); the National Working Committee (NWC) and INEC as 1st to 5th defendants respectively.
The plaintiffs, who sought five reliefs, prayed for an order of interim injunction, restraining the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th defendants from carrying out the threat to remove the national secretary (Anyanwu).
This, they said, was in violation of the provisions of Article 47 (1) of the Constitution of the PDP (as amended in 2017) pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
They argued that Anyanwu was duly elected on Dec. 10, 2021, and was entitled to remain in office till Dec. 9, 2025.
They said that an elected national officer of the 1st defendant cannot be arbitrarily removed from office in any manner without his resignation and in breach of the party’s constitution.
But in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants’ counter affidavit, the party’s leadership averred that contrary to the plaintiffs’ argument, Anyanwu applied for leave of absence to enable him concentrate on his election as PDP candidate in the Imo governorship poll which took place on Nov. 11, 2023.
They, therefore, said that contrary to Paragraphs 22 and 23 of the plaintiffs’ affidavit, the NWC approved the deputy national secretary to act in place of the national secretary as provided for in Article 36(2) of the party’s constitution.
Meanwhile, when the matter was called for judgment, two lawyers announced appearance for parties interested to be joined in the suit.
While G.E Ejekela announced appearance for Dr Ali Odefa, the national vice chairman of South East of PDP, P.O. Akpogwu represented Hon S.K.E. Ude-Okoye, who was listed as national secretary of the party.
But plaintiffs’ counsel, Musa, called the attention of the court to Ude-Okoye’s motion for joinder filed on his behalf.
The senior lawyer said though the motion was filed yesterday, he had responded to it.
He, however, faulted the process on the grounds that the exhibits attached to the one served on him were different from the exhibits attached to other parties’.
After much arguments, Akpogwu applied to withdraw the motion for joinder and the plaintiffs’ lawyer sought a cost of N1 million but the judge awarded a N100, 000 fine against the lawyer for filing an untidy process.
Moving his motion for joinder on Odefa’s behalf, Ejekela said the application dated Dec. 22, 2023, was filed on Dec. 27, 2023. He urged the court to grant their prayer.
But Musa, who opposed the plea, said a counter affidavit had been filed.
He argued that the application was an attempt to arrest the judgment, urging the court to dismiss it for constituting an abuse of court process.
Justice Ekwo then stood down the matter for ruling and judgment.
Delivering the ruling, the judge dismissed Odefa’s motion for lack of merit and for being an abuse of court process.
In his judgement, Ekwo held that the plaintiffs had been able to demonstrate, with credible evidence, the threat and move by the PDP leadership to remove its national secretary without due compliance with the provisions of the party’s constitution.
“The court is duty bound to prevent that from happening.
“The plaintiffs do not have to wait until the 1st — 4th defendants carry out their threat before coming to seek redress.
“In such situation, the court is bound to grant the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs,” he said.(NAN)