Main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has come down hard on six of its members, including ex- governor of Enugu state, and senator representing Enugu East senatorial district, Chimaroke Nnamani. They were expelled by the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Party on Friday for alleged anti party activities.
Last month, Nnamani was suspended from the party, weeks after his name appeared on the official list of campaigners for the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Recall that another prominent member of the party and Rivers State Governor, Barrister Nyesom Wike, appeared to have pre-empted the PDP move against him by getting a court order stopping the party from tampering with his membership.
Many believed he was slated for either suspension or expulsion, having fallen out with the party after he lost out in the party’s presidential primary last year to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; and the jostle for the vice presidential ticket, which went to Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.
He also spearheaded a coalition with four other governors – Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), and Okezue Ikpeazu (Abia) – to engage the PDP in a political fight.
However, the PDP NWC at the end of its 566th meeting held on Friday in Abuja explained that the party approved the expulsion of Nnamani and the others for anti-party activities and other grave offenses in violation of the Constitution of the PDP (as amended in 2017).
Others expelled were: Hon. Chris Ogbu (Imo State), Ajijola Lateef Oladimeji (Ekiti Central), Olayinka James Olalere (Ekiti Central II), Fayose Oluwajomiloju John (Ekiti Central I), Akerele Oluyinka (Ekiti North I), and Emiola Adenike Jennifer -(Ekiti South II).
In its statement, the party added that the decision of the NWC is sequel to the recommendation of the National Disciplinary Committee and pursuant to Sections 58 and 59 (1)(g) of the PDP Constitution (as amended in 2017).
“The PDP charges all members of our Party across the country to remain united and focused on the mission of our Party to Rescue, Rebuild and Redirect our nation from misrule”.
In a lengthy reaction, titled, “My Purported Expulsion a nullity, You have no power to do so,” Nnamani stated that the Ayu led NWC did not follow due process and strict compliance with the provisions of the PDP Constitution and therefore lacked the powers to suspend or expel him as a member of the National Assembly.
In a letter to the PDP NWC through his lawyer, Olusegun O. Jolaawo SAN, the lawmaker stated that the NWC has no powers to suspend or expel him except the National Executive Committee ( NEC).
He quoted copiously the relevant sections of the PDP constitution breached by the Ayu led NWC:
Article 57(7) “Notwithstanding any other provision relating to discipline, no Executive Committee at any level, except the National Executive Committee, shall entertain any question of discipline as may or concern a member of the National Executive Committee, Deputy Governors or members of the National Assembly, Provided that nothing in this Constitution shall preclude or invalidate any complaint submitted through the National Working Committee to the National Executive Committee concerning any person whatsoever.”
Article 59(3)“Notwithstanding any other provision of this Constitution relating to discipline, no Executive Committee at any level except the National Executive Committee shall entertain any question of discipline as may relate or concern a member of the National Executive Committee, President, Vice President, Governors, Deputy Governors, Ministers, Ambassadors, Special Advisers or member of any of the legislative houses.”
“On 20 January, 2023, the NWC conducted preliminary disciplinary hearing against our client and approved his suspension from the party for one month, purportedly acting pursuant to Article 57(3) of the Constitution of the PDP.
“It is evident on the basis of Articles 57(7) and 59(3) of the Constitution of your party excerpted above, that no organ of the party, including the National Working Committee, has the competence to entertain any question of discipline against our client, except the National Executive Committee of the party.
“Quite apart from the obvious and undeniable fact that the purported proceeding of the National Working Committee of your party held on 20 January, 2023 and the decision reached there at suspending our client from the party is null and void, as our client was neither invited to the meeting nor given the opportunity to be heard before the decision against him was taken; See Article 57(6) of the Constitution of your party, the National Working Committee lacks the requisite powers to entertain any question of discipline against our client to the extent of suspending or expelling him from the party.
“The proceeding and decision reached at the meeting of the National Working Committee of your Party which was held on 20 January, 2023 is therefore, both illegal and a nullity.
“It therefore gives us great concern, that your proposed disciplinary hearing of 8 February, 2023 as stated in your letter of 1st February, 2023, is built and erected on the illegal and invalid meeting and decision taken by the National Working Committee of your Party at its meeting of 20 January, 2023, suspending our client from the Party. Your letter to our client dated 1st February, 2023 made it abundantly clear that the complaint against our client was made to your committee by the National Working Committee.
“However, by virtue of the proviso to Article 57(7) of the Constitution of your Party, the National Working Committee is required to make complaint on any disciplinary matter against a member of the National Assembly, only to the National Executive Committee of the Party. Your committee has not claimed to be the National Executive Committee of the PDP and in fact, is not.
“Your committee therefore, has no powers under the Constitution of the Party (under which you claim to be proceeding against our client) to entertain or hear any question of discipline against our client as he is a member of the National Assembly. Only a properly constituted National Executive Committee of the party can entertain such question of discipline against him.
“We therefore, urge you to reconsider your proposed disciplinary hearing against our client and abort it immediately. We have only requested your committee to comply strictly with the clear provisions of the Constitution of the Party under which you claim to be proceeding. Your proposed disciplinary hearing of 8 February, 2023 is wholly erected on illegality and your committee equally has no powers under the Constitution of the party to invite our client for the purpose of entertaining any disciplinary matter against him.”