Court order restraining Ayu deepens PDP’s post-poll crisis

Friday Ajagunna
Friday Ajagunna
Dr. Iyorchia Ayu

The protracted crisis that has hit the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took a legal dimension Monday as a Makurdi High Court in Benue State issued an interim injunction restraining Dr Iyorchia Ayu from parading himself as the national chairman.

The order came a day after Ayu was suspended by the executive committee of his native Igyorov Ward in the Gboko Local Government Area of Benue.

A resolution passed at the end of the Igyorov Ward meeting and read by its Secretary, Mr. Banger Dooyum, accused Ayu of causing PDP to lose the general election at the state, local government and ward levels.

The ward executives also passed a vote of no confidence in him.

The applicant, Conrad Utaan, in the case before Justice W. I. Kpochi, cited Ayu’s suspension in filing the motion.

The suit, numbered HC/85/2023, with Ayu and the PDP as defendants, has been adjourned to April 17 for a hearing.

Ayu has however dismissed his suspension, saying the ward executives lacked the powers to so act.

He cited Article 57(7) of the PDP Constitution which prohibits any organ from taking any disciplinary measure against a National Executive Committee (NEC) member.

Besides, 16 PDP ward officials in Ingyorov disassociated themselves from Ayu’s suspension and the vote of no confidence passed in him.

But, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike asked Ayu to get ready because the war against him was just beginning.

The governor said it was unthinkable for someone who could not deliver his polling unit, ward, local government or state to the PDP during the last general election to preside over the party and control states won by the PDP, such as Rivers.

Former PDP Deputy National Chairman, Chief Olabode Goerge, blamed Ayu for the crisis that has engulfed the party.

“This is a dirty politics which Ayu started,” he said in reference to the court injunction.

Ruling on the application to restrain Ayu, Justice Kpochi said: “Upon hearing Mr. M. T. Assoh and upon a dispassionate consideration of the facts placed before me in the pool of the affidavit evidence, and again, upon the consideration of the issues distilled in the written address by M. T. Assoh, it is my candid view that this is a proper case to grant the interim injunction as craved.

“Consequently, this application is hereby granted in terms of the reliefs captured in the motion papers as herein before reproduced. It is so ordered.”

The applicant had sought an order of interim injunction restraining Ayu from parading himself as national chairman having lost his membership.

He prayed that the order should subsist, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.

But, Ayu has told the executive committee of his ward that it lacked the power to suspend him.

He said those who purportedly suspended him were illiterates and ignorant of the PDP constitution.

In a statement by his media aide, Simon Imobo-Tswam, the PDP national chairman said some of those who suspended him were forced to sign the resolution.

He also said they were being teleguided by those he described as political gamblers “to cause mischief and nothing more”.

According to him, some of the Exco members who refused to sign the resolution were being held hostage in an unnamed location in Makurdi, the Benue capital.

“The purported suspension is, therefore, an exercise in futility as it derives its strength majorly from gross illiteracy, ignorance, gambling and desperation.  It has only mischief, drama and propaganda value,” Ayu declared.

The statement adds: “We wish to state categorically and with all emphasis at our disposal thus:

“For starters, Article 57(7) of the PDP Constitution as Amended in 2017 expressly prohibits any organ of the party or executive committee of the party at the Ward or State Level from taking any disciplinary measure against any member of the party’s National Executive Committee.

“The purported suspension is, therefore, an exercise in futility as it derives its strength majorly from gross illiteracy, ignorance, gambling and desperation.

“It has only mischief, drama and propaganda value. But more than this, the so-called suspension letter was written by an illiterate beforehand, and only given to the coerced members to sign somewhere in Makurdi.

“This is why the original date is ‘tipexed’ and 24 March imposed on it. And this is also why it states that the presidential/National Assembly and Governorship/State Assembly elections were held on the 25th and 18th March 2023 respectively.

“From what we know, the document itself is fraudulent as the signatures of the ward executives were forged or obtained under duress.

“The (ward) chairman, his deputy and legal adviser didn’t sign. The 14th person on the list didn’t sign too. She was at NKST Ambighir for the Holy Communion.

“In fact, the same applies to Nos. 5, 8 and 16. At the time, they were supposed to be in Makurdi with the other coerced, intimidated and induced members of the exco, they were actually in their villages, going about their normal businesses.

“Up till now, about nine members of the Ward Exco are still being held hostage in a location in Makurdi for obvious reasons.

“And expectedly, their mobile numbers have been switched off. It is instructive. The general public is hereby advised to ignore rumours to this heinous effect. Those behind the plot are only investing in expensive illusions.”

No fewer than 16 Ingyorov PDP ward officials disassociated themselves from Ayu’s suspension.

They informed the PDP chairman in Gboko that they were neither part of the meeting nor did they sign the resolution.

They stated: “The Executive Committee never discussed in any of our meetings prior to elections or post-2023 general elections about the conduct of the national chairman, Dr. Ayu.

“The Executive Committee has no knowledge of the letter of suspension and has not authorised anybody to generate such a mischievous letter on behalf of the Executive Committee.

“The purported signatures on the letter were forged and no Executive Committee member of Ingrorov PDP Council ward signed the letter, just as all their names were wrongly spelt.

“We, therefore, pass a vote of confidence on the PDP National Chairman Dr Iyorchia Ayu and urge members of the public to disregard the purported suspension.”

Wike, who spoke during the inauguration of the remodelled Community Secondary School in Okoro-nu-Odo, in Obio-Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers, accused Ayu of being responsible for PDP’s colossal failure in Benue and across the country during the general election.

He said: “Ask them, those who want to be chairman of this party (PDP), what do you have to give to the party now?

“Presidential election; you lost in your unit, lost in your ward, lost in your local government and lost in your state. Which party will you preside over now?”

Wike said it was God who hardened Ayu’s heart not to resign when the G-5 governors and members of Integrity Group demanded his resignation after the emergence of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the PDP presidential candidate.

He said if Ayu had resigned then, his cohorts, who were vehemently opposed to the zoning of elective and appointive offices, would have used that as an excuse for the party’s abysmal performance in the just-concluded general elections.

The governor said it would be morally offensive for Ayu to remain as the national chairman after the catastrophic defeat of the party under his watch in his unit, ward, local government, state and national levels.

Wike insisted that Ayu’s suspension was the beginning of the battle to save the party.

He said: “Those of you who are fighting his suspension, you have not seen anything yet. The fight has started. Ayu, the fight has just started.

“If you know him, those of you who are close to him, tell him, Iyorchia Ayu, the fight has just started.”

According to Wike, instead of Ayu using his position to strengthen PDP’s grip on Benue, he let it slip.

He said: “Will you preside over the one (Rivers PDP) I have secured victory for? You want to come and preside over this state (Rivers) so that we will begin to donate money to the party?

“You, bring your own state to the party too, so that your state can contribute money to the national. If you don’t deliver your state, you can’t preside over us. You cannot.”

Wike noted that already, some persons within the party were thinking of siding with Ayu to challenge his suspension.

“Somebody who engaged in anti-party activities is suspending people. The chief priest of anti-party, native doctor of anti-party suspending those who have worked hard for this party.

“All of you who are joining Ayu, be prepared. Now, I have no other job. The job I have now is to put more heat on them and I will continue to do that,” the governor said.

Wike pointed out the nullity of the purported summoning of members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of PDP to Abuja to meet and pronounce the suspension as illegal.

He said: “If you like, let the national secretary rush to Abuja.  Let them meet this afternoon and say the suspension is illegal, you will see what you will face. You are calling us small boys, you will see what small boys can do to you.”

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