The High Court of Benue State in Makurdi, on Friday, sacked Iyorchia Ayu as the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The judge, Maurice Ikpambese, nullified Mr Ayu’s membership of the party.
The judgement extinguishes Mr Ayu’s hope of returning to his position as the party’s chair, having now lost his membership of the party.
This came on the heels of a judgement by W. I Kpochi of the same Benue State High Court restraining Mr Ayu from parading himself as the national chairman of the PDP following an ex-parte request by a member of the party in Benue, Terhide Utaan.
Preceding the court’s restraining order against Mr Ayu was his suspension by the executive committee of the PDP by the party’s leadership at his Gyrorov Ward in Benue.
But delivering judgement on the substantive suit on Friday, the judge, Mr Ikpambese, dismissed Mr Ayu’s preliminary objections.
Mr Ikpambese, who is also the state’s Chief Judge, said by virtue of Article 8(9)of PDP’s constitution, Mr Ayu ceased being a member of the party, owing to his failure to pay the party’s statutory membership fees.
“The plaintiff has proven his case, all the questions for determination have been resolved in favour of the plaintiff, and he is entitled to all the reliefs sought. I so order.”
Citing the provisions of Article 46(1)of the PDP constitution, Mr Ikpambese dismissed Mr Ayu’s contention that the ward executive committee of the party cannot discipline a member of the National Executive Committee.
He held that the ward executive of the PDP is imbued with the power to discipline a member of the NEC of the party.
The judge further held Mr Ayu failed to prove that he had paid his membership subscription fee.
In the suit marked: MHC/85/2023, the plaintiff, Mr Utaan’s lawyer, Emmanuel Ukala, a SAN, urged the court to declare that Mr Ayu was no longer fit to be the national chairman of the PDP.
Mr Ukala argued against Mr Ayu’s preliminary objections.
He urged the court to discountenance the preliminary objections and grant the reliefs sought by the plaintiff.
The lawyer predicated the suit on the grounds that Mr Ayu had lost membership of the party in his Igyorov Council Ward of Gboko in Benue State.
Mr Ukala urged the court to declare that Mr Ayu cannot preside over the party’s affairs.
He prayed the court to stop Mr Ayu from parading himself as the national chairman of the PDP.
But Mr Ayu’s lawyer, J.J Usman, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), filed preliminary objections to the case.
Mr Usman argued that the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear and determine the suit.
The respondent’s lawyer also contended that the plaintiff lacked the right to institute the case.
The emergence of Atiku Abubakar as PDP’s presidential candidate last year caused a significant crack in the party’s leadership.
Five dissident governors of the party – Samuel Ortom, Nyesom Wike, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Okezie Ikpeazu (former governors of Benue, Rivers, Enugu, Abia) and Seyi Makinde, the current governor of Oyo State, asked Mr Ayu to relinquish his position as the party’s chairman.
They contended that Atiku hail from the same northern region of Nigeria as Mr Ayu, accusing the region of dominating PDP’s leadership.
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However, Mr Ayu clung to his position, dismissing the demand from the G-5 governors.
Mr Ayu’s predicament came to a head when members of the PDP at his country home suspended him from the party in March, shortly after Atiku lost the presidential election.
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