Enugu judge withdraws from PDP chairmanship suit over ‘death threats’

Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu

Justice A. R. Ozoemena of the Enugu High Court, on Monday, withdrew from hearing a suit brought by Ikeje Asogwa, praying the court to uphold his purported appointment as the chairman of the Enugu State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

The judge said he took the action because he had been receiving calls and messages on his mobile telephones by people he did not name, threatening to kill him and therefore would not go ahead with the case.

Mr. Asogwa, a loyalist of Governor Sullivan Chime, had instituted the suit asking the court to restrain the defendant, David Aja, from parading himself as the Chairman of the state’s PDP.

Mr. Aja was deputy to Vitalis Abba, who resigned his position and by virtue of the constitution of the party, should have stepped into the position of his predecessor. However, some party chieftains appointed Mr. Asogwa instead as substantive chairman of the party.

Mr. Ozoemena, on November 14, took full arguments on the motion on notice and adjourned the matter for November 24 for the ruling of the court.

The judge said the case file should be returned to the registrar of the Enugu State High Court for onward transmission to the chief judge of the Enugu State High Court, Justice Innocent Umezulike, for reassignment.

Worried about the development, Justina Offiah, SAN, counsel to Mr. Asogwa, described it as unfortunate.

On his part, counsel to the defendant, Ogochukwu Onyekwuluje, held that the proper thing to do was for the judge to petition the police and make available to them the phone numbers in question for thorough investigations that would bring the culprits to book.

Meanwhile, the Federal High Court, Abuja on Monday upheld the result of the Ward Congresses of the PDP in Enugu State on November 1.

Three PDP members, Orji Godwin, Cletus Akalusi and Orji Orji, on behalf of themselves and all the delegates elected in the election, had instituted a suit seeking for the declaration by the court that the list of delegates was the only valid list for the PDP delegates for primaries in Enugu State to the exclusion of all other lists.

The national chairman of the party, Adamu Mu’azu, its national organising secretary, Abubakar Mustapha, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, were joined as defendants in the suit.

The plaintiffs also sought an order restraining INEC from accepting any other list of delegates for the PDP primaries in the state.

In his ruling, Justice A.F.A Ademola, held that a valid ward congress for the election of a three-man man delegate from the 260 Electoral Wards of Enugu State took place in Enugu State on November 1 and that the list before it remained the valid list candidates returned at the election.

On the issue of jurisdiction, which the defendants said the court lacked, the judge held that the court had jurisdiction to hear the suit because the matters in contention were not simply the internal matter of the PDP.

Mr. Ademola said the delegates had been duly elected, had certain rights, and could therefore ask the court to protect their rights as delegates.

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