Rivers State High Court has declared the suspension of a former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, by Ward 5 executive committee of the party in Ikuru Town, in Andoni Local Government Area of the State as valid and subsisting.
The court also ordered a perpetual injunction restraining Secondus from parading himself as the national chairman of PDP.
Justice Okogbule Gbasam of the Degema Judicial Division vacation court ratified the suspension of Secondus while delivering judgment in a case filed by Ibeawuchi Ernest Alex, Dennis Nna Amadi, Emmanuel Stephen and Umezirike Onucha (claimants) against Uche Secondus (1st defendant) and the PDP (2nd defendant).
The judge said after careful review of the submissions made by the lawyers to the parties in the suit, he arrived at the conclusion that evidence presented by the claimants before the court clearly showed that Secondus was suspended by Ward 5 over anti-party activities on August 8, 2021 and that the Andoni LGA office of the PDP wrote a letter of acceptance of the suspension on August 10.
He further explained that the claimants also provided evidence that the state chapter of PDP confirmed the suspension of Secondus on August 11, with another letter written to the Board of Trustee of the party on August 13.
Gbasam noted the first defendant, who was represented by his lawyer, Godfrey Uwalaka never challenged his suspension by his ward.
He said the suit was not about the suspension of Secondus as national officer, but as member of the PDP in his ward, his root and foundation as a member of the party.
The judge explained that Article 53 of the PDP clearly stated that any member suspended cannot participate in the affairs of the party when on suspension.
He declared that by the virtue Secondus’ suspension as a member of the PDP in his ward, he had lost the right to function as national chairman of the party and any function carried out by him under suspension remained invalid.
He said: “I, hereby, hold that the court has jurisdiction to hear the suit. I hold, therefore, that his suspension and having been acknowledged by the party in the state, is valid. He shall not so act as national chairman. His suspension still subsists.”
The judge struck out the preliminary objection by Secondus’ lawyer challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter.
He also dismissed the objection that the matter ought not to have been filed through originating summons.
Gbasam further dismissed the application brought by Secondus’ lawyer that the court lacked power to meddle in internal affairs of the party.
He declared that the court had a constitutional obligation to hear matters, particularly, when political parties clearly breached their own constitution.
The judge declared Article 59 (3) of the PDP constitution which deals with discipline of national officers as null and void saying such officers could not be judges in their own case.
He issued a consequential order declaring Article 59 (3) of the PDP constitution void, because it was inconsistent with Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
Gbasam, before reading the judgment, dismissed oral application by Secondus’ lawyer to stay further proceeding on the matter pending the determination of his client’s suit in the Court of Appeal.
But lawyer for the claimants, Nwosuegbe Eze, prayed the court to discountenance the oral application since there was no motion before the court for stay of proceeding.
On the issue of fair hearing raised by by lawyer to PDP (second defendant), Eugene Odey, the judge said the lawyer had ample time to represent the client and the issue of fair hearing had no basis.
Gbasam said it had been noticed that parties, who could not prove their cases always used the issue of fair hearing to hoodwink the court.
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