- Iyorchia Ayu has been removed as the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by the Benue state high court
- The state high court nullified Ayu's membership in the party, ending his chances of reclaiming his position
- The court held that Ayu, who had faced a restraining order and suspension failed to pay the party's membership fees, leading to his removal
Makurdi, Benue state - The Benue state high court sitting in Makurdi has sacked Iyorchia Ayu as the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Judge Maurice Ikpambese, on Friday, June 2, nullified Ayu's membership in the party, extinguishing his hope of reclaiming his position as the party's chair, Premium Times reported.
Iyorchia Ayu's ordeal: Restraining order and suspension
Prior to the court's ruling, W. I Kpochi of the same Benue state high court had issued a restraining order against Ayu, preventing him from representing himself as the national chairman of the PDP.
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This order was granted following an ex-parte request by a party member in Benue, Terhide Utaan.
Additionally, Ayu had been suspended by the executive committee of the PDP at his Gyrorov Ward in Benue.
Delivering the Judgement: How Iyorchia Ayu lost
In the substantive suit, Judge Ikpambese dismissed Ayu's preliminary objections and delivered the judgement.
He referred to Article 8(9) of the PDP's constitution, stating that Ayu ceased to be a member of the party due to his failure to pay the party's membership fees.
The judge ruled in favour of the plaintiff, stating that all questions for determination had been resolved in the plaintiff's favour, and granted all the reliefs sought.
Court's interpretation of PDP's constitution
Judge Ikpambese referred to Article 46(1) of the PDP constitution and dismissed Ayu's contention that the ward executive committee of the party cannot discipline a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC).
He held that the ward executive committee has the authority to discipline a member of the NEC. The judge also noted that Ayu had failed to prove that he had paid his membership subscription fee.
Plaintiff's arguments and Iyorchia Ayu's defense
In the suit, the plaintiff's lawyer, Emmanuel Ukala, a SAN, urged the court to declare that Ayu was unfit to be the national chairman of the PDP.
Ukala argued against Ayu's preliminary objections and requested the court to disregard them and grant the reliefs sought by the plaintiff.
The suit was based on the grounds that Ayu had lost his membership in the party's Igyorov Council Ward of Gboko in Benue state, Nigerian Tribune also stated.
Ukala urged the court to declare that Ayu cannot preside over the party's affairs and to prevent him from representing himself as the national chairman of the PDP.
On the other hand, Ayu's lawyer, J.J Usman, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), filed preliminary objections, arguing that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear and determine the case and that the plaintiff lacked the right to institute the lawsuit.
How it all started: Ayu's position and party disagreements
The emergence of Atiku Abubakar as the PDP's presidential candidate led to a significant rift in the party's leadership.
Five dissident governors of the party (G5 Governors), including Samuel Ortom, Nyesom Wike, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Okezie Ikpeazu, and Seyi Makinde, demanded that Ayu step down as the party's chairman.
They accused the northern region of Nigeria, from which both Atiku and Ayu hail, of dominating the PDP's leadership. Ayu, however, refused to comply with their demand.
Ayu's suspension and final outcome
Ayu's predicament intensified when members of the PDP in his hometown suspended him from the party in March, shortly after Atiku lost the presidential election.
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Ultimately, the high court's judgement confirmed Ayu's removal as the national chairman of the PDP.
Wike taunts Ayu over removal as PDP chairman
In celebration of Ayu's removal as chairman, Wike, during the commissioning of the Trans-Kalabari Road Phase 1, Degema Local Government Area (LGA), Rivers State, said:
“You see how God works? All those people who were plotting evil against us, they are now the ones suffering it."