I remain Ebonyi PDP chairman, says Onu

By Charles Onyekwere, South-East Correspondent

The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) in Ebonyi State, Silas Onu, has said he remains the chairman of the party despite a purported court ruling sacking him. This is as he clarified that the Court of Appeal decision which ordered a stay of execution of his swearing-in as chairman of the party cannot stand as the said action had already taken place and ratified by the party.

He also noted that PDP has withdrawn from the joint appeal filled with the other applicant in the matter, Tochukwu Okorie, effectively rendering the matter dead. Reports had circulated on Monday that an Appeal Court in Abuja had sacked Mr Ọnụ and restored Mr Tochukwu Okorie as chairman of the party. Mr Okorie was declared winner of the party’s state leadership election last year but was sacked by an Abuja High Court last month in a suit by Onu challenging his(Okorie’s) election.

The lower court had ruled that Okorie was not qualified to stand for the election and ordered that Ọnụ, who came second, be sworn in immediately as chairman, an order which was immediately carried out and implemented by the party. But Okorie and the PDP immediately appealed the lower court’s decision at the appeal court but the PDP a few weeks later ratified and recognized Onu as the chairman. The Trumpet Gathered

On Monday, reports circulated online that the Appeal Court had sacked Onu as Chairman. But Onu, a lawyer debunked the news stating that the Appeal Court has not ruled on the substantive matter filed by Okorie and the PDP. He clarified that what the court ruled on was a motion for a stay of execution of the lower court’s ruling adding that the order has already been carried out.

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He said: “there is no judgement by Court of Appeal so I wonder how Court of Appeal sacked me. It is an interlocutory application of Stay of Execution, it heard and granted them their prayer for stay of execution.

“You will ask yourself what is being stayed? is it the completed act that is being stayed? The Court of Appeal said I have not been given certificate of return. It is not in PDP’s constitution to be given certificate of return. Does Tochukwu have a certificate of return?” he queried.

“In any case, before the ruling was given, PDP, which is the first applicant to the case, had briefed Tochukwu’s lawyer, who incidentally was PDP’s Lawyer to withdraw their application for a stay of execution, that they are no longer interested in it because they have fully implemented the judgment. The lawyer deceived the court and said PDP did not debrief him, that he is still representing PDP”, Silas alleged.

Mr Silas said PDP has filed a notice of discontinuance in court which means the matter is dead as it was a joint appeal.

“So these are issues that would be determined subsequently because we are going to take these up separately. However, as I speak to you now, PDP has withdrawn from the appeal, and if they have withdrawn from the appeal, a court order that is precedent upon such appeal cannot stand.”

“Because the order is interlocutory, if the main case had been withdrawn, the order would also lapse, the reason why it cannot stand is that Tochukwu and PDP filed the joint appeal. It is one process that they filed together.

“So you cannot separate Tochukwu from PDP. Now, if PDP has withdrawn from the appeal, the court must strike out the entire appeal for Tochukwu to go and rewrite his appeal and file again, making PDP a respondent in the new process, and the supreme court’s position on withdrawal of the case is that the moment you file it, the case dies that day, the day of the hearing is the day of burial.

“The order is based on a case that is pending in court, because they say stay of execution pending the hearing and determination of the appeal, now if there is no appeal to be heard and determined again, it means the order itself dies so the order they got this morning died this morning. The order cannot stand. So their jubilation is just a waste of time,” he added.

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