By fabulous reporter
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, who stepped aside from his position on Tuesday, is set to fight his suspension by a Benue State High Court, Makurdi on Monday.
Ayu’s Special Assistant on Communication, Simon Imobo-tswam, disclosed this to our correspondent shortly after the party announced the appointment of the Deputy National Chairman, (North), Umar Damagum Ayu as the acting national chairman.
He said Ayu would challenge the suspension order in court.
The Igorov ward executive committee in the Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State had on Sunday suspended Ayu for alleged anti-party activities and for failing to pay his membership dues.
In the aftermath of the suspension, the Benue State court restrained Ayu from parading himself as the chairman of the party following a suit filed by a former aide to the state governor, Conrad Utaan.
Ayu and the PDP were listed as the first and second respondents, respectively.
The case has been adjourned till April 17 for a hearing.
But his Special Assistant on Communication, in response to a question from The PUNCH, confirmed his principal’s plan to challenge the court order legally.
When asked if his embattled principal would challenge the court order barring him from parading himself as the PDP national chairman, Imobo-tswam simply said “yes” without entertaining further questions.
He however added that the PDP “has said everything concerning the issue. So, there is no need to say more.”
Damagum, in a brief interview with journalists in Abuja, explained that he was taking over the party leadership in an acting capacity “to fulfil all righteousness.”
He said, “We are here to fulfil all righteousness. We have a court order restraining our national chairman and we are law-abiding. I will be here with you in an acting capacity pending the determination of the court.
‘’I want to use this opportunity to enjoin you to give me the cooperation we all used to have with you. I will have a meeting immediately after this session with the NWC (National Working Committee) to review what is happening in the party.”
In solidarity with Ayu, PDP stakeholders from his Igyorev ward protested at the party secretariat on Tuesday.
They expressed support for the suspended chairman and further passed a confidence vote in him.
Addressing journalists, a ward executive member, Stephen Shimahile, said “We categorically disclaim and disassociate ourselves from the purported letter of vote of no confidence and suspension of Senator Iyorchial Ayu as a member of PDP in Igyorov Council Ward of the Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State dated the 24th day of March 2023 circulating in the media
“The executive committee members have never discussed in any of our meetings prior to election or post-2023 general election about the conduct of the national chairman in line with chapter 10 section 57 of the party’s Constitution 2017 as amended.
“The executive committee members have stated clearly that they have no knowledge of the letter and have not authorised anybody whatsoever to generate such mischievous letter on behalf of the executive committee.’’
He claimed the signatures on the letter were forged, stressing that no member of the PDP executive committee of the Igyorov council ward signed it or caused it to be signed on his or her behalf.
“The names of the executive committee members are wrongly written and spelt which showed the desperation of the mischief-makers,” he stated.
The spokesman for the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, Dino Melaye argued that Ayu’s decision to obey the court order was a testament to the party’s belief in the supremacy of the law.
While noting that Ayu reserved the right to seek legal redress, the former lawmaker who represented Kogi West Senatorial District at the National Assembly, warned the Governor Nyesom Wike-led Integrity Group not to be too fast in celebrating because “Ayu did not resign; he only stepped aside in obedience of a court order.”
He continued, “Ayu has the right to seek legal redress and I am sure that is an option he would explore. Ayu did not resign; he only stepped aside. He will bounce back and for the G-5 governors, we tell them not to rejoice yet because the music has just started.
“This is no celebration time for them. By this move, the party and the chairman have both demonstrated that they are law-abiding. Whether the ex parte order was well procured, purchased or induced, Ayu decided to obey it as a law-abiding citizen. There is no point in taking the laws into our hands.’’
Speaking further, Melaye noted, “While this crisis lasted, Governor Wike kept repeating that he and his group wanted the chairmanship of the party to go to the South but in compliance with the constitution of the party, the position has remained in the North. Now, has this helped their cause?”
In the same vein, a member of the PDP National Executive Committee, Timothy Osadolor told The PUNCH that anyone ruling out the chances of Ayu returning to the office “does not know the stuff he is made of.”
According to him, “Ayu will be back. It is not a question of if but when. As I said a few days ago, the suspension from his ward is null and void because the constitution of the party is clear on the matter.