Following the invalidation of the election of Mr. Tochukwu Okorie as Ebonyi State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, indications have emerged that the leadership battle is not yet over.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja, had sacked Okorie following a suit filed by Silas Onu, in which he claimed that Okorie was not validly nominated for the chairmanship post before the state congress of the party.
Justice Mohammed had, after evaluating the legal arguments of the plaintiff and respondents, declared that Okorie was slovenly in the submission of his nomination form on October 4, 2021, stressing that he was not qualified to stand for the election.
Before directing the PDP to accept that only Onu was lawfully nominated to participate in the election of October 16, 2021, the Judge stated: “It is the opinion of this court that the 2nd defendant (Okorie), who was indolent in submitting his nomination form as provided in the guidelines issued by the PDP, who, in spite of this failure, was still declared and returned elected, cannot be allowed to benefit from his wrongdoing.”
Justice Mohammed, therefore, directed PDP to issue Onu with a certificate of return declaring him as the duly elected Chairman of PDP, Ebonyi State Chapter, reiterating that Okorie was not qualified to contest the October 16, 2021 election.
But, in their separate remarks to The Guardian after the judgment, Okorie said the ruling was but a temporary setback, assuring that he would appeal the judgement and upturn the verdict.
On his part, Onu commended the Judiciary for its steadfastness and rigour in dispensing justice, noting that immediately the judgment was entered, reports had it that Ebonyi State went agog with jubilation.
Onu expressed optimism over his poise to overcome whatever fresh obstacles his opponents may position on his path, assuring that given the disenchantment that trailed the imposition of Okorie, the process of winning back public confidence in Ebonyi PDP would be gradual.
“The moment the declaration was made that I am the authentic state chairman, the entire state was agog, the people were happy and have remained in the jubilant mood”.
The new state chairman remarked that those who left the party in dejection would see the development as the return of sanity and retrace their steps, remarking that it would be a gradual process.
It would be recalled that Silas Onu was stopped from clinching the chairmanship of Ebonyi State PDP on the claims that he was close to Dave Umahi and, as such, might be the governor’s lackey in the party.