Secondus’ suspension from PDP valid, subsisting, court declares
A Rivers States High Court has declared the suspension of Prince Uche Secondus as a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by the Ward 5 executive committee of the party in Ikuru town in Andoni local council of the state, as valid, stating that it still subsists.
The court has also ordered a perpetual injunction restraining Secondus from parading himself as the national chairman of the party.
Justice Okogbule Gbasam of the Degema Judicial Division vacation court sitting in Port Harcourt, ratified the suspension of Secondus while delivering judgment in suit No: PHC/2183/CS/2021 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 counsels of 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 executive committee of the PDP in Ikuru town for anti-party activities on August 8, 2021, and that the Andoni local council 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 a subsequent letter written to the Board of Trustee of the party on the August 13.
Justice Gbasam noted that the first defendant, who was represented by his counsel, Godfrey Uwalaka, never challenged his suspension by his ward.
According to him, the suit was not about the suspension of Secondus as national officer, but as a member of the PDP in his ward, which happens to be 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 could not participate in the affairs of the party when on suspension.
He declared that by the virtue of Secondus’ suspension as a member of the PDP in his ward, he has lost the right to function as national chairman of the party, declaring that any function carried out by him under suspension was invalid.
“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,” Justice Gbasam declared.
The judge struck out the preliminary objection by Secondus’ counsel 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.
Justice Gbasam further dismissed the application brought by Secondus’ counsel that the court lacks power to meddle in the internal affairs of the party. He declared that the court has a constitutional obligation to hear matters, particularly when political parties clearly breach their own constitution.
The Judge declared that Article 59 (3) of the PDP constitution, which deals with discipline of national officers was null and void, as such officers could not be judges in their own case.
He therefore issued a consequential order declaring Article 59 (3) of the PDP constitution void, noting that was inconsistent with Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
Justice Gbasam, before reading the judgment, dismissed an oral application by Secondus’ counsel to stay further proceeding on the matter pending the determination of his client’s suit in the Court of Appeal.
But counsel to the claimants, Nwosuegbe Eze, prayed the court to discountenance the oral application since there was no motion before the court for stay of proceeding. According to him, the intent of the first defendant was to arrest the ruling of the court.
On the issue of fair hearing raised by counsel to PDP (second defendant), Eugene Odey, the Judge said the counsel had ample time to represent the client and the issue of fair hearing has no basis.
Justice Gbasam said it had been noticed that parties who have bad cases and could not prove their cases had always used the issue of fair hearing to hoodwink the court.
Speaking to journalists outside the court, counsel to the claimants, Eze, said they were prepared to face the defendants at the Court of Appeal.
“The PDP members (plaintiffs) reason for the suspension is because they were not satisfied with the way the chairman was handling the affairs of PDP at the national, because there a lot of internal wrangling, divisions and people were leaving the party.
“They felt that his remaining as the chairman has caused grave harm and havoc to the party. That is why they (plaintiffs) took this action. And the court, this morning, confirmed it,” he said.
On his part, counsel to the first defendant, Uwalaka, said that he had expected the judge to suspend the ruling, having informed the court that an appeal had been entered at the Court of Appeal. He said his client would be properly briefed for the next line of action.
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