Court Nullifies Nnamani’s Expulsion From PDP, Says Fair Hearing Right Was Breached

The expulsion of Chimaroke Nnamani, a former senator representing Enugu west, from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was on Monday nullified by a Federal High Court in Abuja.

The Presiding Judge, James Omotosho, in his ruling, held that Nnamani was not given a fair hearing, noting that the expulsion did not follow due process.

Omotosho while citing article 57 of the PDP’s constitution, ruled that the power to discipline and expel an erring party member lies with the national executive council (NEC), not the national working committee (NWC) which made the decision.

Recall that the former Enugu State governor, was expelled by the NWC of the PDP in February while he was serving as senator.

He was suspended and subsequently sacked from the party over alleged anti-party activities.

However, Nnamani, in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/163/23 filed on February 6, sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the PDP National Chairman, and the NWC as first, second, and third respondents, over alleged violation of his fundamental rights to a fair hearing.

Among other demands, he prayed the court to determine whether it was proper for the Party to take disciplinary actions against him without first giving him a fair hearing.

According to him, neither was he notified of any complaint against him nor afforded the opportunity to defend himself before he was suspended.

In a counter affidavit and preliminary objection, the defendants, sought an order dismissing the suit, stating that Nnamani campaigned for another political party while being a member of the PDP.

READ ALSO: Nnamani Sues PDP, Ayu, Over Expulsion; Backs Tinubu

They said they had the power to suspend Nnamani having been found to have engaged in anti-party activities, adding that the issues bordered on the Party’s internal affairs which the court lacked the jurisdiction to determine.

Meanwhile, Omotosho stated that while the supreme court previously determined that matters such as membership fell under the jurisdiction of the Party and were not within the purview of the courts, section 46(2) of the 1999 constitution granted the court the authority to address allegations of violations of individual rights.

“This court will not dabble into the internal affairs of the Party but will restrict itself to whether the fundamental right of the plaintiff has been breached,” Omotosho said.

Articles 4 and 5 of the PDP constitution, he said, gives provision for a fair hearing to erring members.

He furthered that a fair hearing means giving equal opportunity to parties, noting that where such has been done, no one can complain.

“But the complaint of the plaintiff is that he was not giving a fair hearing. The law is clear that specific provisions override general provisions,” he said.

The judge said the available fact before the court is that the “NWC, at its 566th meeting, considered all the allegations against Nnamani and approved his suspension for one month.”

Omotosho said it was the NWC that expelled the former governor on February 10 in a press release, which he said was a gross violation of the Party’s constitution.

He conclusively ruled that the decision of the PDP NWC that expelled Nnamani was nullified.