The National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has replaced Senator Iyioricha Ayu as National Chairman.
At an emergency meeting on Tuesday, the NWC acknowledged the order of the Benue State High Court, which barred Ayu from parading himself as Chairman of the opposition of the party.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday, Debo Ologunagba, National Publicity Secretary of the party, said after a 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), Amb. Umar Ililya Damagum assumes the National Chairmanship of the Party.
The NWC charged all leaders, critical stakeholders, teeming members and supporters to remain calm and united “at this critical time”.
The post election crisis of the party took a new dimension on Sunday when Igyorov Ward stakeholders in Gboko Local Government Area of Benue State suspended Ayu over alleged anti-party activities.
The action was taken a few days after the NWC of the party dragged Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, before its disciplinary committee and suspended a former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, and erstwhile Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, among others.
Ayu’s suspension followed a vote of no confidence passed on him by his ward executives at the end of their meeting.
The ward’s Secretary, Vangeryina Dooyum, in a statement signed by 12 of the 17-member ward executives, said the decision to suspend the national chairman was reached after the leadership reviewed his conduct at the end of the 2023 general elections.
Ayu had described the action as an exercise in futility, saying any organ of the party or executive committee of the party at the Ward or State Level could not take any disciplinary measure against any member of the party’s National Executive Committee.
But a Benue High Court later barred him from parading himself as Chairman of the party.
In suit, number MHC/85/2023, filed at the court by Engr Conrad Terhide Utaan with Ayu and the PDP as defendants, the presiding judge, Justice W. I. Kpochi, said having lost his membership of the party and pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice, “an order of interim injunction restraining the 1st defendant, Senator Dr Iyorchia Ayu, from parading himself as the national chairman of the PDP has been granted.”
The court papers said the application is supported by a 15-paragraph affidavit to which is annexed three exhibits: A1, A2 and B which are the membership card of the 2nd defendant, receipts for payment of dues, and a vote of no confidence passed on the 1st defendant/respondent by the Igyorov council ward of the 2nd defendant in Gboko LGA of Benue.
The matter was adjourned to April 17 for hearing.
Responding to the court order, Governor Nyesom Wike, who has been advocating for the removal of Ayu, said the battle had just begun.