No fewer than one hundred suspected political thugs on Thursday stormed Ebonyi State High court in Abakaliki, to protest over alleged leadership tussle rocking the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
Investigation revealed that the suspected hoodlums invaded the court to protest against the decision of a Judge, Justice Vincent Nwanchor who recused himself from entertaining a suit brought before it by the Chairman of a faction of the PDP, Chief Onyekachi Nwebonyi who was sacked by the national leadership of the party.
Recall that Justice Nwanchor had while resigning as the third Judge in a row to reject the bidding of the plaintiffs in suit No: HAB/161/2020 after his brother Judges; the State’s Chief Judge, Justice Anselm Nwigwe and Justice Elvis Ngene towed similar paths acceded to one of a two-point of facts contained in a motion on notice brought by the 8th defendant and also a lead counsel in the suit, Barr. Mudi Erhenede.
The Defense counsels, Erhenede, had contended that there would be a strong likelihood of bias by Justice Nwanchor if he goes ahead to hear the suit due to his close relationship with the Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State, Dr. Eric Kelechi Igwe who hails from the same Ikwo community and electoral ward with him.
The judge, Justice Nwanchor had said “I agree with the fact that the defence counsel is right. I will not deny the fact that His Excellency the Deputy Governor is my brother. We come from the same community, and that it will affect ruling on this case which it has not.
I, therefore, wish to throw in the towel as I recuse myself from this matter. I shall return the case file to the Court’s registrar”, the Judge ruled on Wednesday this week.
However, not less than 24 hours after the ruling, youths suspected to be political thugs numbering over 100 besieged the court premises to register their anger over the ruling.
It took the intervention of the Police to disperse the protesters and stop them from gaining access into the various court divisions which had already commenced sitting.
Meanwhile, an Abuja Federal High Court presided over by Justice E. I Ekwo has granted an order of interlocutory injunction restraining Nwebonyi and five others from parading themselves as members of the State Executives of the Party.
Granting the order sequel to a motion on notice in Suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/1609/2020, between Hon. Fred Udeogu and 11 others V. Barr. Onyekachi Nwebonyi (for himself and as representing members of the dissolved Ebonyi State PDP Executive Committee) and 5 others, Justice Ekwo restrained the Local Government and Ward Executives from not only parading themselves but also using the State Secretariat of the PDP in Ebonyi or any of its property still in their custody.
“An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Defendants from in whatsoever manner parading, holding or continuing to parade or hold themselves out either individually or collectively as officers of the 11th Plaintiff or members of the State, Local Government Area and or Ward Executive Committees of the 11th Plaintiff in Ebonyi State pending the hearing and determination of this suit”.
The Court equally ordered the Police and INEC to desist from giving any form of recognition whatsoever from all the restrained parties.
“An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the 4th and 5th Defendants, their Servants, Agents and/or Officers from in whatsoever manner according to recognition to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Defendants as officers from in whatsoever manner according to recognition to the 1st , 2nd and 3rd Defendants as officers of the 11th Plaintiff, pending the determination of this suit”.
The matter has further been adjourned to the 4th of February, 2021 for the hearing of the substantive suit.
In a swift reaction, the caretaker committee of PDP in the state, Elder Fred Udeogu said: “After our appointment and inauguration in Abuja according to the PDP constitution, we were asked to come back and resume and we resumed. Not up to two weeks, we were served with so many documents and we started going to court till today.
“They were contesting that they are the genuine party executives while the National Working Committee has already rusticated them from the party, they were still counting themselves as members of the party which is not proper. They took over the secretariat, did everything, put up some measure of berths for us to fall into their trap but we have been very careful.
“There were occasions they expected us to come and join them there and then have a collision that will have some level of violence, we said no, we are not going to do that. All of you witnesses to what is happening in the court today. Each time they brainwash a judge, the judges will be there and tell them we have the authorities to do what we are supposed to do.
“This morning, they went on protest saying that PDP was protesting. How can PDP be protesting from the APC secretariat? They moved from APC secretariat to the court, barricading the court gate and none of the judges entered there; the Lawyers went there this morning and couldn’t have access to the court and they said they are PDP people. so, we have no hand in those frivolities they are doing here.
“As they were there, there was this Abuja judgment that barred Onyekachi Nwebonyi from addressing himself as a member let alone being the Chairman of PDP and the same court ordered me to take over the party secretariat immediately. But you can see we are relaxed, we are not in a hurry to take over the party secretariat, and we will get into that place legally.
“We are not going to fight anybody, we are not going to struggle with anybody when we get into that place. So, they are protesting in vain, they are protesting on non-existing issues because they own the court, they own the state and everything. So, why are they protesting against themselves? They have no reason to protest let alone protesting against themselves” he stated.
In a related development, all effort to get the reaction of Barr. Onyekachi Nwaebonyi concerning the restriction of the court at the time of filing this report was abortive, as his phone numbers was switched off.