..says Ward Executive of party has powers to discipline NEC member
..insists Ayu’s PDP membership elapsed after failing to pay his membership fee
By Peter Duru, Makurdi
A Makurdi High Court, presided over by the Chief Judge of Benue State, Justice Maurice Ikpambese has upheld the sack of Dr. Iyorchia Ayu as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Justice Ikpambese held Friday that Dr. Ayu could no longer remain in office as the National Chairman of the PDP having lost his membership of the party in his Igyorov Council Ward of Gboko Local Government Area, LGA, of the state.
It would be recalled that a member of the PDP in Benue State, Mr. Conrad Utaan dragged Dr. Ayu to court after his Igyorov Ward Executive Committee of the party passed a vote of no confidence on him and suspended him from office.
In the suit No: MHC/85/2023, the plaintiff sought among other reliefs a declaration that, Dr. Ayu was no longer fit to remain in office after losing his membership of the party in his ward.
Mr. Utaan also sought an order of the court to restrain the embattled National Chairman “from parading himself as the National Chairman of the PDP since he has lost his membership of the party in his ward.”
Dr. Ayu through his counsel Johnson Usman, a Senior Advocate, filed preliminary objections challenging among others the locus standi of the plaintiff and the jurisdiction of the court saying it was an internal affair of a political party insisting that the plaintiff did not exhausted the internal dispute resolution mechanism of the party,
The plaintiff through his counsel, Mr. Emmanuel Ukala also a Senior Advocate argued the court to discountenance the objections and grant the reliefs sought.
In a ruling that lasted about 2 hours, Justice Ikpambese who resolved all the issues raised in the preliminary objections in favour of the plaintiff held that “by virtue of Article 8(9)of the constitution of the PDP, Dr. Ayu’s membership of the PDP elapsed with his failure to pay his membership subscription fee.”
On the claim that the Ward Executive Committee of the party lacked the powers to discipline a member of the National Executive Committee, NEC, Justice Ikpambese held that, “going by the provisions of Article 46(1) of the PDP Constitution, the Ward Executive of the PDP have the powers to discipline a member of the NEC of the party.”
The Judge pointed out that Dr. Ayu did not show proof that he had paid his membership subscription fee, and did not challenge his suspension before any organ of the party or before any court, thereby leaving the court with the impression that he consented to his suspension by his Ward Executive Committee. He said Ayu lost his membership of the party even before he was suspended by his Ward Executive Committee.
Resolving all the issues in favour of the plaintiff, Justice Ikpambese held that “the plaintiff has proven his case, all the questions for determination have been resolved in favour of the plaintiff, he is entitled to all the reliefs sought. I so order.”