The Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar, Cross River State, on Friday, upturned a Port Harcourt High Court judgement on the Peoples 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, held that the PDP rules and guidelines on election of its officials override 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 Appeal 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, Mr Alphonsus Eba, the appellant said the litigation which has held the conduct of State Congress of the PDP has ended and called on all party members to come together so that a State Congress can be conducted for the 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 into the party in the last one year but for the litigation which has held the state congress from holding
With the judgement, reprieve may have come the way of Governor Ben Ayade as the pronouncement of 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.