Enugu PDP crises enters new phase as Court bars use of delegates' list
By Chibota Edozie
An Enugu High Court has restrained the Peoples Democratic Party from acting on a list of delegates said to have been elected during the recent ward and local government congresses in Enugu State, pending the hearing and determination of a substantive suit on the matter.
The development is a new twist in the battle between two factions - one loyal to Governor Sullivan Chime, the other backed by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu - over control of the party structure in the state.
The Ekweremadu faction, led by Elder David Aja, had declared that the congress held successfully in the state, and proceeded to forward a list of delegates elected from the exercise to Abuja.
But the Chime camp, led by Chief Ikeje Asogwa, insisted that there was no congress in the 260 wards in Enugu State on November 1.
The Chime faction, which includes members of the State Executive Committee of the party, is arguing that the congress did not hold due to the non-arrival of members of the electoral panel and materials from Abuja.
A statement from the Government House on Thursday disclosed that the Enugu High Court, presided by the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Innocent Umezuluike, has stopped the national leadership of the party from acting on the list while ruling on an application filed by one Charles Okafor.
PDP was cited as the defendant in the suit.
Okafor had approached the court to challenge the validity of the said congress.
In the ruling, Umezuluike also ordered an accelerated hearing of the substantive suit.
Stressing the urgency of the matter, the judge further granted the plaintiff seven days within which to file his statement of claim and serve same on the defendant, and equally granted the defendant 14 days to file its statement of defence and serve same on the plaintiff.
Umezuluike adjourned the matter to December 8 for definite hearing which is the slated date for PDP’s gubernatorial primaries nationwide.
Meanwhile, delegates alleged to have been elected from the congress had already approached an Abuja Federal High Court with a suit in which they sought to stop the national leadership of the PDP from changing the result of the exercise.
But, in a counter-affidavit deposed on its behalf in the suit before the Abuja FHC, the PDP reportedly said the congress did not hold in Enugu, a statement which confirms THE CITIZEN earlier story concerning the detention of the election materials in Wuse Police station.
The party stated that due to a misunderstanding that almost involved fisticuffs among the members of its electoral committee for the congress in Enugu State, the materials for the election did not leave Abuja but were deposited by mutual consent at the Wuse Police station for safe-keeping.
The battle over the structure of the party in Enugu State, which effectively ensued after the resignation of the former chairman, Engr. Vita Abba, has gradually moved to the courts.
Asogwa's appointment by the SEC as Abba's replacement was rejected by then deputy chairman, Aja, whose argument that he should be the acting chairman was eventually endorsed by the PDP National Working Committee.
Both factions had already obtained separate court orders restraining each other from acting as the leadership of the party in the state.
An Abuja Federal High Court, at the instance of Aja, had restrained Asogwa from parading himself as the chairman of the Enugu State chapter of the PDP, while an Enugu High Court, following an application by Asogwa, also ordered Aja to stop acting as the state party chairman.