Appeal Court reserves ruling for Friday on PDP, Secondus suit

The Court of Appeal sitting in Port- Harcourt, Rivers State has reserved judgment for Friday, October 29, 2021, on the appeal brought by the embattled National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Prince Uche Secondus against the PDP, one Ibeawuchi Ernes-Alex, and eleven others.

A panel of three justices, headed by Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani, reserved the ruling on Thursday after hearing arguments in the application filed by the former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Uche Secondus to suspend the conduct of the convention.

The convention, slated for October 30 and 31 in Abuja, had been fixed by the PDP’s National Working Committee as part of efforts to resolve the party’s internal crisis.

During Thursday’s proceedings, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), counsel to Secondus, argued that refusing to grant his application to stop the PDP Convention can be likened to “pulling off the rug under the feet of the appellant”.

He said his client will be permanently denied the right to preside over or participate in the convention if the pending applications bordering on his leadership and membership status go in his favour.

But the submission was opposed by Henry Bello, counsel to the first to fifth respondents, who are the Chairmen of the Peoples Democratic Party in five Local Government Areas of Rivers State.

The Chairmen are challenging Secondus’s legal right to resume as National Chairman of the PDP following his suspension from the party in his ward in Ikuru Town in Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State.

Mr. Bello reading an except of his 24-paragraph affidavit sworn to by the First respondent (one of the LGA party Chairmen), argued that the application to stop the PDP convention by Uche Secondus, was alien to the existing appeals before the court bordering on the leadership and membership of Uche Secondus in the party.

The opposition by Henry Bello was supported by the lawyer to the PDP, Sunday Ameh (SAN).

He submitted that Secondus voluntarily handed over the authorities of his office to a subordinate who has been acting lawfully as the National Chairman and is bestowed with the right to preside over the National Convention.

According to him, “the balance of convenience in the matter is in not granting the application” to stop the convention.

Also, Donald Dee-Nwigwe (SAN), representing the ninth and 10th respondents, picked holes in the argument by Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) that the conduct of the National Convention by the PDP will be a denial of Uche Secondus right to preside over the convention.

He submitted that, “a Chairmanship position of the PDP is at best a political privilege, not a right” and that the September judgment of a High Court in Rivers State which validated the suspension of Uche Secondus from the party has nullified any such privilege which Uche Secondus seeks to protect through his application.

Other counsels, including Godwin Obla (SAN), Sebastine Horns, who represented other respondents like the National Vice Chairman, South-South of the PDP, Dan Obih, also opposed the application to stop the PDP convention.

To further defend his application, counsel to Secondus, Tayo Oyetibo argued that the use of the word “Shall” in the PDP convention bestowed on Uche Secondus, the right, not privilege to preside over party conversations.

He also submitted that the application before the court is not to “prohibit the convention of the party, but to suspend the convention pending the determination of the rights of the parties”.

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