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Ripples as choice of state exco for PDP in Cross River festers

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The political crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Cross River State is taking a different dimension as the state chapter of the party has dragged the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus and three others to court.
 
On the other hand, the newly inaugurated executive committee members of Ward 3, Calabar Municipality, have suspended the state chairman of the party, Ntufam Edim Inok Edim, for misconduct over “his attack on the national chairman and other members of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) and for receiving a bribe of N150 million to release the exco list, which he (Edim) qualified as ‘fake.’

Using Pastor Otu Marshall, Mr. Terence Orok and three others (applicants), the party in the state in a motion ex parte Suit No. HC/15/2020 filed, dated April 29, 2020 at the High Court Calabar, presided over by the state Acting Chief Judge, Justice Maurice Eneji, secured an order of interim injunction “restraining the 4th Respondent (the state chairman) from inaugurating persons other than the claimants, particularly those listed in the letter with Ref. No. PDP/DOM/GF. VOL.2/20-387B of 26/3/2020, as elected officers of the 1st Defendant/Respondent at the Ward and Local Government levels of Cross River State, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice in this suit.”

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The court, after hearing Mr. E.B. Akinde, counsel to the applicants, moved the motion and adopted his written address, also made an order “restraining the defendants/respondents, their agents, privies and servants from according recognition, privileges and rights to the persons listed in the letter, with Ref No. PDP/DOM/GP/VOL.2/20-387B of 26/3/2020 or any other person howsoever called at the wards or Local Government levels in Cross River State except the claimants.”
 
Accordingly, the court ordered the defendants, their agents, privies and servants, “to maintain the status quo and refrain from taking any step in respect of the 1st defendant/respondent in Cross River State, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice in this suit” as the motion on notice was adjourned to May 28, 2020, “to enable the claimants serve their other processes on the 1st – 3rd defendants who are residing outside the Jurisdiction of this court.”
 
But in a surprise move, the newly inaugurated Ward 3 exco, led by Mr. Peter Ika, in its inaugural meeting of May 1, 2020, sent a letter of notification to the national chairman, suspending the state chairman from office, saying, “we discovered with shame and dismay the conduct of our member from the ward and who is the state party chairman of PDP in Cross River State – Ntufam Edim Inok Edim – as exhibited on April 30, 2020 at the state party secretariat…attack on the national chairman and other members of the PDP NWC of receiving a bribe of N150 million to release the Exco list, which he (Edim) qualified as “fake.”

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They said the national chairman and members of NWC were labeled as demons, criminals and other unprintable names as contained in a video, in which “he declared that he will not carry out the instruction/directives of the NWC as contained in letter NO: PDP/DOM/GF VNOL.2/20-387B of April 26, 2020, and went further to inaugurate his own acclaimed ward and local government Exco from Obanliku to Bakassi Local Government Areas in Cross River State.”

Recall that the National Assembly members, stakeholders of PDP from Cross River State, the state governor, Senator Ben Ayade, and state PDP executives have been at loggerheads over the ward and chapter congresses of the party in the state.
 
The NWC of the party had, in a letter signed by the National Organising Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd) dated April 26, 2020, issued a list of ward and chapter executives for the state and directed the state chairman, Edim, to swear them in on April 30. But that was not done as he said they totally disregarded the names making the rounds as “we don’t know any of them, never came to our party and did not pay any dues to us and we call on the national secretariat of our party to investigate the purported list and bring the people to book.”

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The ward and chapter executives, based on the April 26 letter from the NWC, were sworn-in by a Notary Public, Okamiso Ojong, principal partner of Okimaai Ojong and Co, in accordance with the provisions of Section 65 of PDP Constitution as amended in 2017, and they will be in office for a tenure of four years. Edim, on the other hand, after berating the NWC at a mini-rally, openly inaugurated another committee relying on a said letter dated April 27, from the same national organising secretary.
  
However, Akobundu issued a disclaimer dated May 1, 2020, declaring the April 27 list as fake, saying “the attention of the NWC, has been drawn to a list/document of Wards and LGA executives for Cross River State circulating on social media, purportedly signed by the National Organising Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd), as the authentic list of approved new Ward and LGA executives for the state as against the one earlier forwarded to the state chapter, which was also copied to other appropriate authorities, dated Sunday, April 26, 2020.”

Meanwhile, top party sources have declared the allegation by Edim as “wild, spurious and unfounded,” insisting that no money was given or collected from anybody to clear members for the ward and chapter inaugurations in Cross River State.

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