*Ayu-led NWC has no competence or constitutional power to entertain any question of discipline against me
Abuja, NIGERIA – Former Enugu State Governor and Senator representing Enugu East, Chimaroke Nnamani, on Friday, unleashed a blistering attack on Iyorchia Ayu, Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for blatantly violating the inalienable rights of party members, arguing that the Ayu-led National Working Committee (NWC), has no competence to entertain any question of discipline against him, therefore his expulsion from the party as announced is reckless and baseless, and said the allegations did not rise to the level of expulsive offenses without fair hearing.
Senator Nnamani said his suspension and subsequent expulsionb from the party by Ayu-led NWC’s failed on their faces as they do not meet the constitutional standard, suggesting that the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) should dismiss and withdraw the expulsion outrightly rather than dignifying illegality perpetuated by Ayu-led NWC in PDP.
The Ayu-led NWC announced Senator Nnamani’s expulsion alongside six others from the party.
Senator Nnamani who is vying to return to the Senate said his expulsion as an enterprise in futility, arguing that the Ayu-led NWC lacked the powers to suspend or expel him from the party without due process.
The Senator stated that the NWC did not follow due process and strict compliance with the provisions of the PDP Constitution and therefore lacked the powers to suspend or expel him as a member of the National Assembly.
Senator Nnamani’s response not only appeared to put him at odds with Ayu-led PDP but he argued that only a properly constituted National Executive Committee of the party can entertain question of discipline against him.
Senator Nnamani’s latest instance could put his party in a difficult position in the weeks ahead of the elections. And the zigzagging underscored the challenges facing PDP as they try to navigate competing interests.
The question remains, will Senator Nnamani be given a chance to present his arguments? Should the party uphold the expulsion? Will Senator Nnamani be delisted from the February 25th ballot?
Senator Nnamani in a letter to the PDP NWC through his Counsel, Olusegun O. Jolaawo SAN, quoted copiously the relevant sections of the PDP constitution breached by the Ayu led NWC:
The federal lawmaker’s legal counsel argued that based on provisions of Article 57(7) of the PDP Constitution (As amended) which states: “Notwithstanding any other provision relating to discipline, no Executive Committee at any level, except the National Executive Committee, shall entertain any question of discipline as may or concern a member of the National Executive Committee, Deputy Governors or members of the National Assembly, Provided that nothing in this Constitution shall preclude or invalidate any complaint submitted through the National Working Committee to the National Executive Committee concerning any person whatsoever.”
And Article 59(3) which states: “Notwithstanding any other provision of this Constitution relating to discipline, no Executive Committee at any level except the National Executive Committee shall entertain any question of discipline as may relate or concern a member of the National Executive Committee, President, Vice President, Governors, Deputy Governors, Ministers, Ambassadors, Special Advisers or member of any of the legislative houses.”
He argued that On 20 January, 2023, the NWC conducted preliminary disciplinary hearing against our client and approved his suspension from the party for one month, purportedly acting pursuant to Article 57(3) of the Constitution of the PDP.
“It is evident on the basis of Articles 57(7) and 59(3) of the Constitution of your party excerpted above, that no organ of the party, including the National Working Committee, has the competence to entertain any question of discipline against our client, except the National Executive Committee of the party.
“Quite apart from the obvious and undeniable fact that the purported proceeding of the National Working Committee of your party held on 20 January, 2023 and the decision reached there at suspending our client from the party is null and void, as our client was neither invited to the meeting nor given the opportunity to be heard before the decision against him was taken; See Article 57(6) of the Constitution of your party, the National Working Committee lacks the requisite powers to entertain any question of discipline against our client to the extent of suspending or expelling him from the party.
“The proceeding and decision reached at the meeting of the National Working Committee of your Party which was held on 20 January, 2023 is therefore, both illegal and a nullity.
“It therefore gives us great concern, that your proposed disciplinary hearing of 8 February, 2023 as stated in your letter of 1st February, 2023, is built and erected on the illegal and invalid meeting and decision taken by the National Working Committee of your Party at its meeting of 20 January, 2023, suspending our client from the Party. Your letter to our client dated 1st February, 2023 made it abundantly clear that the complaint against our client was made to your committee by the National Working Committee.”
The letter further read, “However, by virtue of the proviso to Article 57(7) of the Constitution of your Party, the National Working Committee is required to make complaint on any disciplinary matter against a member of the National Assembly, only to the National Executive Committee of the Party. Your committee has not claimed to be the National Executive Committee of the PDP and in fact, is not.
“Your committee therefore, has no powers under the Constitution of the Party (under which you claim to be proceeding against our client) to entertain or hear any question of discipline against our client as he is a member of the National Assembly.
“Only a properly constituted National Executive Committee of the party can entertain such question of discipline against him.
“ We therefore, urge you to reconsider your proposed disciplinary hearing against our client and abort it immediately.
“We have only requested your committee to comply strictly with the clear provisions of the Constitution of the Party under which you claim to be proceeding.
“Your proposed disciplinary hearing of 8 February, 2023 is wholly erected on illegality and your committee equally has no powers under the Constitution of the party to invite our client for the purpose of entertaining any disciplinary matter against him.”
By Chidipeters Okorie