PDP turmoil: Ayu reprisal-fight suffers setback


…As court bars him from chairmanship position

…Ayu can’t preside over us, I’ll put more heat — Wike

…Refusal to step aside leads to legal battle — Party Stalwart

…My removal effort in futility, Ward has no power to suspend me — Ayu

By Moses Adeniyi

Although the embattled National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) tried to fight back against his suspension from his Ward in Gboko Local Government Area in Benue State, the Court on Monday handicapped him with an injunction restraining him from “parading himself as the National Chairman of the PDP.”

The High Court sitting in Makurdi presided over by Justice Wilfred Kpochi on Monday issued an interim order of injunction following an ex-parte application brought before the Court by a PDP stalwart, Mr. Conrad Utaan against Ayu and the PDP in a suit No MHC/85/2023.

The application was supported by a 15-paragraph affidavit and three exhibits including the applicant’s PDP membership card, receipt of payment of dues and a copy of the resolution of the PDP Executive of the Igyorov Council Ward of Gboko Local Government Area (LGA), suspending Dr. Ayu.

The plaintiff in the application argued that Ayu should cease to operate in the capacity of the National Chairman “having lost membership of the party, pending the hearing and determination of Motion on Notice already filed.”

In his ruling, Justice Kpochi held that the Court, after listening to the plaintiff’s counsel move the application “and upon a dispassionate consideration of the facts placed before me in the pool of the affidavit evidence, and again, upon the consideration of the issues distilled in the written address by the plaintiff’s counsel, it is my candid view that this is a proper case to grant the interim injunction as craved.

“Consequently, this application is hereby granted in terms of the reliefs captured in the motion papers as herein before reproduced. It is so ordered.”

Justice Ikpochi adjourned the matter to April 17 for hearing.

Addressing journalists after the ruling, Mr. Utaan explained that he approached the Court to effect Ayu’s removal from office.

“We naturally expected that out of the performance that we have just recorded as a party in Benue, we expected Dr. Ayu, like it is done in saner climes, to step aside honourably because he wasn’t able to lead the party to victory; and allow the party to move on without him.

“Unfortunately, he has refused to show or display that kind of honour and I thought it wise to approach the court to see how to agree with the position of his Ward who only 24 hours ago, suspended him from the party.

“Our expectation is that you cannot be the National Chairman of a party that you are not a member of.

“Fortunately for us as a party, Dr. Ayu is no longer a member of the PDP as declared by his Ward and under normal circumstances, he has no reason whatsoever to continue as the National Chairman of our party,” Utaan said.

Battle against Ayu to oust him from the chairmanship position of the PDP heightened on Sunday as 12 out of the 17 member Executive of the Igyorov Council Ward of the PDP in Gboko LGA, Benue, declared his suspension after passing a vote of no confidence on him over alleged anti party activities.

…Those behind the plot are only investing in expensive illusions – Ayu 

Meanwhile fighting back, Ayu  earlier on Monday described the suspension lashed on him by executive members of his Ward, as an exercise in futility.

Ayu, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Communications, Simon Imobo-Tswam, in Abuja on Monday, discountenanced the suspension.

Discrediting the action, Ayu described as rumours the suspension declared by the Executive Committee of his Ward.

He said, “We wish to state categorically and with all emphasis at our disposal thus, that the PDP National Chairman, Ayu, has not been suspended by his Ward. Some members of the Exco are only being teleguided by political gamblers to cause mischief and nothing more.

“For starters, Article 57(7) of the PDP Constitution as Amended in 2017, expressly prohibits any organ of the party or executive committee of the party at the Ward or State Level from taking any disciplinary measure against any member of the party’s National Executive Committee.

“The purported suspension is, therefore, an exercise in futility as it derives its strength majorly from gross illiteracy, ignorance, gambling and desperation. It has only mischief, drama and propaganda value.”

Ayu alleged that the so-called suspension letter was written by an illiterate, and only given to the coerced members to sign somewhere in Makurdi.

“This is why the original date is tipexed and 24 March imposed on it.

“From what we know, the document itself is fraudulent as the signatures of the Ward Executives were forged or obtained under duress.

“The chairman, his deputy and legal adviser didn’t sign the letter. The 14th person on the list didn’t sign too. In fact, the same applies for Nos. 5, 8 and 16.

“At the time they were supposed to be in Makurdi, the others coerced, intimidated and induced members of the Exco, they were actually in their villages, going about their normal businesses,” he said.

Ayu alleged that till now (on Monday), about nine members of the exco were still being held hostage in a location in Makurdi for obvious reasons.

He added that expectedly, their cell phones had been switched off, saying “it is instructive.”

He advised the general public to ignore rumours to the “heinous effect,” saying “those behind the plot are only investing in expensive illusions.”

…The fight has just started, Ayu can’t preside over us, I’ll put more heat – Wike

Meanwhile, in the supremacy battle, Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike on Monday challenged Ayu to a fight for the soul of the PDP, stating it is impossible for him to preside over the Party, particularly for his State where he said he has fought to retain a victory for the party.

Wike, during inauguration of remodelled Community Secondary School, Okoro-nu-Odo, Obio-Akpor Local Government Area (LGA), Rivers State, on Monday, referring to Ayu, declared that a person who failed to secure victory for the Party in his Unit, Ward, LGA or State in the 2023 general elections  does not deserve to be allowed to preside over the Party.

“Ask those who want to be chairman of this Party (PDP), what do you have to give now? Presidential election; you took bribe, and lost in your Unit, lost in your Ward, lost in your Local Government and lost in your State. Which party will you preside over now?

“Those fighting that they have suspended him, you have not seen anything yet. The fight has started. Ayu, the fight has just started. If you know him, those of you who are close to him, tell him, Iyorchia Ayu, the fight has just started.

“Will you preside over the one (Rivers PDP) I have secured victory for? You want to come and preside over this State so that we will begin to donate money to the party? Bring your own State to the party too, so your State can contribute money to the national. If you don’t deliver your State, you can’t preside over us. You cannot.

“Look at somebody who did anti-party, he is suspending people. The chief priest of anti-party, native doctor of anti-party, suspending those who have worked hard for this party. All of you joining Ayu, be prepared. Now, I have no other job. The job I have now is to put more heat on them and I will continue to do that.

“If you like, let the National Secretary rush to Abuja. Let them meet this afternoon and say the suspension is illegal, you will see what you will face. You are calling us small boys, you will see what small boys can do to you,” he said.

…Ayu did us well, if not for him, APC would have had difficulty – Umahi

Meanhwile, Wike’s counterpart, Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, who was at the commissioning ceremony of  the school project said at the occasion, that Ayu’s adamant posture to resign prior to the general elections was an advantage to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Umahi said Ayu did well for not yielding to the demands to resign as the Party chairman as demanded by the G-5 governors of the PDP and other party stalwarts.

According to Umahi, if Ayu had yielded the demands, it would have posed difficult for the APC to win the elections.

Umahi who is of the APC said, “I thank very highly the suspended Chairman of PDP. You know, he did very well because if he had accepted to resign, it would have been very difficult for the APC.

“So, he is our man and I commend him very well. And I’m begging Wike they should lift the suspension so that he can suspend many more of your leaders. We love what he has done. We commend him and I think Asiwaju (Bola Tinubu) must know that he worked for him, and must also integrate him in the next administration.

“And, so all these set of people, Asiwaju/Shettima must know that God turned their hands, to work for him, to actualise the will of God and actualise unity, equity and fairness. And we are very grateful to God for that.

“God directly and indirectly made Governor Wike very much available.  There is no way APC can conclude about the success of the election without mentioning Governor Wike. And I will be asking Asiwaju/Shettima to please bring Governor Wike to the core administration of the Federal Government. He has a lot to offer, for the unity of the country.”

The battle in the PDP has assumed a rougher dimension since the conclusion of the presidential election that saw PDP lose to the APC.

The crises in the Party have worsen with series of suspension of members with Ayu himself, on Sunday coming under a stroke of suspension.

The suspension of Ayu was effected from his Ward – Igyorov Ward of Gboko Local Government Area (LGA) of Benue State, by the Ward Executive of the Party.

Ayu’s suspension came with immediate effect less than a week after the Party’s National Working Committe (NWC) lashed some of its key members including  former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose; former President of the Senate, Pius Anyim; and others, including Prof Dennis Ityavyar and Aslam Aliyu, with suspension.

The Party had also referred Benue State  Govenor, Samuel Ortom to the National Disciplinary Committee over his reported involvement in anti-party activities.

Ortom and Ayu hail from same Benue State but fell out due to irreconcilable differences over the General Elections.

Ortom is a member of the G-5 PDP Governors who demanded the resignation of Ayu as National Chairman in the build-up to the General Elections and his replacement by a southerner, since Atiku Abubakar the presidential candidate of the party is from the North.

Addressing the media on Sunday, on behalf of the Ward Chairman, Kashi Philip, the Ward Secretary, Mr. Vangeryina Dooyum had said that Ayu was suspended by the Executive for alleged anti party activities.

The Secretary who read from a text signed by 12 out of the 17 member Ward Executive stated that the decision to suspend the National Chairman was reached after the leadership reviewed his conduct at the end of the just concluded general elections.

He had mentioned that Ayu was suspended following alleged anti-party activities while also defecting in payment of his Annual Subscription Fees.

The Ward Executives  had also alleged that he failed to vote during the Governorship and State Assembly Elections held on  March 18, 2023, but rather connived with his allies to work for the All Progressive Congress (APC).

Flanked by the Chairman and other members, the Secretary had said, “We observed with utmost dismay that, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu who is the National Chairman of the PDP worked against the success of the party in Igyorov Council Ward.

“It is on record that, he has also failed to pay his Annual Subscription Fees as provided under Section 8(9) of the constitution of the PDP 2017 (As Amended).

“Further investigation also revealed that, he did not vote during the Governorship and State Assembly Elections held on March 18, 2023.

“It was also discovered that, most of his closest allies worked for the opposition party, the All Progressive Congress, APC, and hence, the abysmal performance of the PDP in Igyorov Ward.

“In view of the foregoing, we hereby pass a Vote of No Confidence on Dr. Iyorchia Ayu and suspend him as a member of our party with immediate effect. The suspension takes effect from March 24, 2023.”

The NWC of the PDP had last week taken a lash on some key members of the Party over anti party activities.

The Party last Thursday suspended former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose; former president of the Senate, Pius Anyim; and others including Prof Dennis Ityavyar and Aslam Aliyu.

However, in swift reaction to his referral to the disciplinary committee, Ortom, had last Thursday said Ayu, ought rather  to be the one to face the party’s disciplinary panel for anti-party activities and not him.

He had said Ayu should be explaining to party members how he lost his polling unit, Ward, LGA and State during the last general elections instead of chasing shadows.

Ortom had also dismissed his referral to the disciplinary panel over alleged anti-party activities as contempt of a subsisting Court Order.

On his own response to his suspension, Fayose, had said the days of  Ayu as National Chairman of the PDP are numbered.

In a statement through his Spokesperson, Lere Olayinka last Friday, described the Ayu-led National Working Committee of the party as “the last kick of a dead horse.”

He said, “Ayu and his cohorts are only entertaining themselves with the purported suspension as their latest comedy skit.”

According to Fayose, in a matter of days, the “inglorious tenure” of Ayu as national chairman of PDP would become history and the party will enjoy a new lease of life.

Fayose said he and others who stood by the Party when “Ayu and his cohorts left it to die would rescue it and give life back in due course.

“The purported suspension will have no leg to stand,” he had said.

The Build-up to the general elections had seen the PDP torn into blocs of divergent interest due to irreconcilable differences.

The development had affected the fate of the Party at the polls as the G-5 governors which demanded the resignation of Ayu as the National Party Chairman and his substitution by a Southerner considering Atiku Abubakar, the Presidential Candidate of the Party hails from the North, refused to work for the Party in the Presidential election, a situation that went sour for the Party in the outcome of the election.

The G-5 Governors which include  Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Seyi Makinde (Oyo State), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu State), Samuel Ortom (Benue State) and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State and other aggrieved stalwarts of the Party have been spotted to have worked against the party, weakening its fortune in the presidential election.

However, some members of the G-5  were also noted to have suffered ill-fate as the elections turned soar for some of them seeking election into the Senate.

Members of the group apart from Makinde who won his re-election, and Wike who did not personally contest any seat, lost their senatorial bid for the Senate, following their two term tenure of eight years would elapse May 29.

It was alleged the Party had paid them back by working for opposition candidates.