May 8, 2024

Court restrains PDP from removing Damagum as National Chairman

PDP National chairmanship not do-or-die for me - Damagum


By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, ABUJA

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has restrained the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from appointing or nominating any person to replace Umar Damagum as its Acting National Chairman, pending the determination of a suit that was brought before it by two chieftains of the party.

The court, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Peter Lifu, made the order on the strength of “an affidavit of extreme urgency” that was filed by the plaintiffs.

The suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/579/2024, was brought before the court by Senator Umar Maina and Alhaji Zanna Gaddama.

Cited as 1st to 5th defendants in the matter, are: the PDP, its National Working Committee (NWC), National Executive Committee (NEC), Board of Trustees (BOT), as well as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Aside from the Originating Summons, the plaintiffs, in a motion ex-parte they filed before the court, sought an interim order to retain Damagum in his position as the Acting National Chairman of the party until their substantive suit is heard and determined.

After he had listened to the plaintiffs’ team of lawyers led by Mr. M. O. Onyilokwu, Justice Lifu, granted the prayers.

Specifically, the court held that: “The Defendants/Respondents are hereby restrained in the interim, from appointing, selecting, nominating any person to replace Amb. Umar llliya Damagum as National Chairman or Acting National Chairman of the the 1st Defendant/Respondent, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice already filed which is herein fixed against the 14th of May, 2024.

“The Defendants/Respondents by themselves, agents, privies or by any proxy, are hereby in the interim, restrained from according recognition to any person other than Amb. Umar Illiya Damagum as Acting National Chairman of the 1st Defendants/ Respondents or giving effect to or acting upon any document purporting to be signed by the National Chairman or Acting National Chairman of the 1st Defendant without the name and signature of Amb. Umar Illiya Damagum, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice already filed in Court in the instant suit.

“The Applicants are herein ordered to enter into a fresh undertaking to pay damages to the Respondents (to be assessed by the Court) if at the end of the day it is discovered that this order ought not to have been granted or that the Honourable Court was misled into granting some.

“The return date is herein fixed against the 14th day of May, 2024, for the hearing of the Motion on Notice dated and filed on the 2nd of May, 2024,” the court added in the ex-parte order that was made on May 3 but sighted by newsmen on Wednesday.

It will be recalled that about 60 members of the House of Representatives elected on the platform of the PDP, had on April 8, demanded the resignation of Damagum as the Acting National Chairman of the party.

The group, led by the lawmaker representing Ideato North/Ideato South Federal Constituency, Imo State, Ikenga Ugochinyere, accused Damagum, who is an ally of the former governor of Rivers State and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Nyesom Wike, of working in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.

Likewise, members of the party from the North-central zone demanded Damagum’s removal, insisting that the position ought to be zoned to them to enable their region to complete the tenure of Iyorchia Ayu, who was suspended as National Chairman of the party last year.

The region placed reliance on Section 47(6) of the PDP Constitution, which provides that; “Where a vacancy occurs in any of the offices of the Party, the Executive Committee at the appropriate level shall appoint another person from the area or zone where the officer originated from to serve out the tenure”.

However, despite the agitations, the National Caucus of the PDP, on April 18, extended Damagum’s tenure as the Acting National Chairman of the party, even as the NWC of the party also passed a vote of confidence on him.