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JUST IN: PDP national chairman steps down after alleged financial misappropriation

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

The National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Iyorchia Ayu has left office, following a Federal High Court sitting in Makurdi, Benue State capital, that affirmed his suspension by members of his ward in the state.

Ayu was directed by members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) to comply with the court order and leave pending when there would be a contrary ruling on his position and membership in PDP.

The party, on Tuesday, appointed the Deputy National Chairman (North), Umar Damagum, to serve as the Acting Chairman, to prevent any leadership vacuum in PDP.

As gathered, Damagum was picked by the party in compliance with the PDP constitution that indicated that whenever the Chairman is suspended, the acting chairman must be from his zone to ensure that members from that region of the country exhaust their tenure.

The new development was confirmed through a statement released by the National Publicity Secretary, PDP, Debo Ologunagba, after the closed-door meeting held at the party’s headquarters in Abuja.

According to the statement, “The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at an emergency meeting today, Tuesday, March 28, 2023, acknowledge the Order of the Benue State High Court, dated March 27, 2023, with regards to the Chairmanship position of our great Party.

“After careful consideration of the Court Order and in line with Section 45 (2) of the Constitution of the PDP (as amended in 2017), the NWC resolved that the Deputy National Chairman (North) His Excellency, Amb. Umar Ililya Damagum assumes the National Chairmanship of our Party in an acting capacity with effect from today, Tuesday, March 28, 2023.”

It would be recalled that Ayu who was suspended by his ward in Benue State for anti-party activities. The court thereafter restrained him from parading as the chairman of the party pending the determination of the substantive suit which has been adjourned to April 17, 2023, for a hearing.

A member of the party from Benue Terhide Utaan, who is the plaintiff before Justice W. I Kpochi, obtained the order stopping Ayu from parading himself as national chairman of the party.

The plaintiff after obtaining the court order told journalists that following Ayu’s suspension by his Igyorov Ward Exco, it was wrong for him to continue as the PDP chair. He argued that such a move will further cause chaos.

Before his suspension, there were calls for Ayu to leave the post. In the lead-up to the 2023 general elections – which the PDP lost to the ruling All Progressives Congress – a group of governors in the party called G5 repeatedly demanded his resignation from the position.

Led by Governor Nyesom Wike, the G5 argued that since the party’s presidential candidate for the election Atiku Abubakar is from northern Nigeria – Ayu – who is from the same region – should pave the way for a southerner to assume the office.

The G5 argued members, who worked against Atiku, hinged their decision on fairness and equity.

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