By Matthew Okache, Emma Una
Appeal Court sitting in Calabar on Friday upturned a Port –Harcourt High Court judgement on the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Cross River State chapter chairmanship tussle.
The Presiding Judge of the Court of Appeal Calabar, Justice M S Owoade who delivered the judgement in suit CA/C/386/2020, between Venatius Ikem and others versus PDP and Alphonsus Eba, the court held that the PDP rules and guidelines on election of its officials overrides whatever interferes with the election process.
“Section 147 of the PDP Constitution has explicitly spelt out the qualification for anyone to contest for any position in the party and any one seeking office should abide by the terms contained in the Constitution” Justice Owoade held
He said the Appellate Court finds the Appeal by the Cross River PDP competent as the lower court which earlier delivered judgement failed to take into cognisance salient issues raised by the Appellant during initial hearing of the matter before delivering its judgement.
He held that a political party has vested authority to insist on imposing the rules contained in its Constitution without restrictions and such rules are sacrosanct.
The judgement brings to an end the contention over the disqualification of Mr Venatius Ikem former National Publicity Secretary of the Party for not meeting the terms to participate in the chairmanship election and clearance of Barrister Alphonsus Eba as the sole candidate for the election
Reacting to the judgement, Barrister Alphonsus Eba, the Appellant said the litigation which has held the conduct of State Congress of the PDP has ended the and called on all party members to come together so that a State Congress can be conducted for party to forge ahead.
“With today’s judgement I have been confirmed as the sole chairmanship candidate of the party and my hands are wide open to receive everyone including those who have opposed and even abused me in the past”.
He said many members would have been won in to the party in the past one year but for the litigation which has held the state congress from holding.
” I was born with a large heart and have forgiven everyone. The APC is regrouping in the state and we have to move fast to retain our position as the leading political party in the state.
He says any day he is sworn -in to office, that is when his tenure begins to run and will last for four years.
Succour may have come the way of Governor Ben Ayade as the pronouncement of the Presiding Justice of court of Appeal depreciating the issue which the respondent, Venatius ikem raised and attached the list of his authentic exco, the court in relying on the recent Supreme Court judgment of Aguma V APC clearly stated that the respondent has no locus to challenge the internal affairs of the party.
Invariably, the party is now at liberty to amend, change, replace or deal in any way the list that emerged from the ward and chapter exco of March 2020.