UPDATED: Court nullifies removal of Imo deputy governor, Eze Madumere

Imo State Deputy Governor, Eze Madumere. [Photo credit: official Facebook page of Eze Madumere]
Former Imo State Deputy Governor, Eze Madumere. [Photo credit: official Facebook page of Eze Madumere]

An Imo State High Court Tuesday held that the controversial removal of the state deputy governor, Eze Madumere, from office did not follow due process, therefore making it illegal.

Benjamin Iheka, the presiding judge, in his ruling nullified the removal.
Mr Madumere was on July 30 sacked by 19 of the 27 members of the Imo House of Assembly about same time a court in the state barred the lawmakers from removing the deputy governor from office.

The Assembly had earlier received a report by a seven-member panel set up by the state chief judge which allegedly indicted Mr Madumere of gross misconduct and abandoning his duty for three months. But the High Court Judge, Mr Iheka, had then issued an interim order restraining the panel from submitting its report, thus halting the removal proceedings.

The state assembly nonetheless went ahead to sack the deputy governor.

Mr Madumere was on July 30 sacked by 19 of the 27 members of the Imo House of Assembly about same time a court in the state barred the lawmakers from removing the deputy governor from office.

In his Tuesday ruling, Mr Iheka declared the lawmakers’ action “invalid and of no legal effect”. He further slammed Paschal Nnadi, chief judge of the state, and Militus Nlemadim, the commissioner for justice, for not adhering to the provisions of section 188(5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

PREMIUM TIMES is yet to confirm if Tuesday’s court judgement has been served on the lawmakers.

When contacted, Mr Okorocha’s spokesperson, Sam Onwuemeodo, said he was abreast of the ruling but “cannot react” until he sees the court judgement. “I cannot react to what I have not seen, when I see it (the judgement) then I will make an official statement”, he said.

A Battle for Supremacy

Mr Madumere had been embroiled in a supremacy battle with his boss, Governor Rochas Okorocha, who is backing his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, as his successor, against his deputy, who is also in the race.

The running political battle which is at the centre of the current crisis within the Imo State All Progressives Congress (APC) fold saw the birth of parallel factions in the party.

While Mr Madumere teamed up with a former senator, Osita Izunaso, the erstwhile national organising secretary of the APC, and Ifeanyi Ararume, a former senator, to conduct ward, local government and state congresses of the party in May, the governor supported a separate faction which conducted parallel congresses.

Although the APC faction supported by Mr Madumere and Mr Izunaso, was initially recognised by the national leadership of the party, its election was upturned by the court in the lead up to the party’s national convention.

The APC’s plan to hold fresh congresses in Imo was also suspended by a federal court in Abuja.

Okorocha, Izunaso Battle Continues

Meanwhile, the APC battle for supremacy in Imo State shifted grounds as the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday ordered the APC to conduct fresh elections for the office of National Organising Secretary (NOS) within 30 days.

The order followed a suit filed by Mr Izunaso after he lost the position to Emma Ibediro of Mr Okorocha’s faction at the APC national convention in June.

According to Mr Izunaso, APC erred by going ahead to announce Mr Ibediro as winner of the election in spite of the violence, thuggery and irregularities recorded, a position the court agreed with citing exhibits presented before it.

Nnamdi Dimgba, the judge handling the case, held that the election did not follow the Electoral Act and the guidelines made by the party for the convention.

Responding to the judgment, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Yekini Nabena, said the party has challenged the ruling at the court of appeal.

“The high court has ruled but there is a window for appeal which we have used and hoping it will up turn the ruling,” Mr Nabena said.

Also speaking on the matter, the Imo State APC spokesperson, Jones Onwuasanya, said the party still recognises Mr Ibediro as its National Organising Secretary.

“We still recognise Emma Ibediro as our National Organizing secretary because the high court that gave the order did not tell him to vacate the office. He is still in the seat for now because he has filed an appeal at the appeal court,” Mr Onwuasanya told PREMIUM TIMES on phone Tuesday evening.

“There is no way the election will be organised without looking into the appeal. He has the right to appeal even up to the Supreme Court so by the time the appeal court gives its judgment we take it up from there.

“We will go to the Supreme Court if the appeal court judgement is not favorable even though we expect it to set aside the ruling of the high court because that judgement that will stand the test of time. Ibediro won the election free and fair, there were no irregularities as the court said.”

He debunked the existence of a parallel faction in the state chapter of the party. “There is only one recognised APC structure in Imo State and it is headed by Daniel Mmadueke Nwafor.”

Mr Madumere had earlier this month submitted his nomination form to contest the governorship seat of Imo on the platform of the governing party, APC amidst the controversies trailing his ambition.

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