Ebonyi PDP boils over Umahi’s defection to APC

•Faction suspends ex-Gov Egwu, 23 others for anti-party activities
•PDP to lawmakers: you can’t run away with our mandate
•Umahi’s defection testament of APC’s ability to unite Nigerians –Govs


Ogochukwu ANIOKE, Abakaliki; Gbade OGUNWALE and Jide ORINTUNSIN, Abuja


THE crisis in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) sparked by the defection of Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State to the All Progressives Congress (APC) deepened yesterday after one of the factions in the state suspended all the National Assembly members from the state elected on the platform of the PDP.

The Onyekachi Nwebonyi-led state Working Committee, which was sacked by the PDP NWC, rejected the dissolution and pronounced all NASS members from the state suspended.

Top of the list of the suspended federal legislators is ex-governor Sam Egwu who currently represents Ebonyi North in the Senate.

The National Assembly members had, on Wednesday, disowned the governor and vowed to remain in the PDP.

Umahi’s colleagues in his new party, the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), yesterday described his switch to the ruling party as a testament to the party’s capacity to mobilise and unite all Nigerians.

The Ebonyi governor also yesterday received the support of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide which said PDP’s outcry over Umahi’s defection “shows that milking of Igbo votes has ended.”

Nwebonyi, in a statement, said the dissolution of the Ebonyi State Working Committee of the PDP by the party’s National Working Committee was illegal and unconstitutional.

He said he remained in charge as PDP chairman.

His words: “It is laughable to think that the NWC would just get up and dissolve a state executive committee because the governor or a few individuals want to leave the party.

“We are in charge of the party in Ebonyi State for the next four years, having been duly elected for a four year term recently. Our tenure will elapse in 2024 and nobody has the power to dissolve the state executives.”

The SWC sack, according to him, “is null and void and of no effect”.

The PDP faction accused the suspended party stakeholders of attempting to destabilise the PDP in the state.

It summoned them to appear before its disciplinary committee which was scheduled for yesterday, and threatened to expel them should they fail to honour the invitation.

The invitation letter was dated 13th January, 2020 and made public on Thursday night.

However, Senator Egwu Egwu dismissed his ‘suspension’ as a huge joke.

He said: “I am just laughing at them. But you yourself as a journalist know the truth. In the first place, is Nwebonyi a member of our political party PDP? Is he the Chairman of PDP in Ebonyi State?

“How can somebody who doesn’t have the locus standi said he is suspending us? It is not laughable and highest joke of the century? How can somebody who is no longer holding party office in our great party said he is suspending us?”

“This is somebody who was sacked by the National Working Committee of the party. My reaction on the so-called suspension will come fully.”

Also reacting, a member of the State House of Assembly who is opposed to Umahi’s defection, Chris Usulour, said: “How can a former chairman of the party suspend us? It is laughable and he is joking; it is not done anywhere.

“They can’t suspend us, because you can’t place something on nothing. It’s a nullity.

“How can someone who was sacked by the National Working Committee of the party say that he is suspending us? And he even backdated the date he put there. So, it is nothing. He is a joker.”

Mr. Usulor denied speculations that the state assembly was plotting to impeach the governor.

Apart from Egwu, other NASS members affected by the suspension are Senator Obinna Ogba (Ebonyi Central) and Senator Michael Ama Nnachi(Ebonyi South), Representatives Iduma Igariwey (Afikpo North/South); Chukwuma Nwazunku (Ebonyi/Ohaukwu); Sylvester Ogbaga (Abakaliki/ Izzi) and Livinus Makwe (Ohaozara/Onicha/Ivo) federal constituencies.

Two Members of the state house of Assembly who have been known to be opposed to the governor’s defection were also affected.

They are the member representing Ezza South state constituency in the House of Assembly, Chris Usulour and his Ebonyi North West counterpart, Victor Aleke.

Soon after Umahi’s defection, the PDP NWC set up a 7-man Caretaker Committee headed by a former commissioner in the state, Fred Udeogu.

Other members of the committee are Luke Nkwegu -Secretary; Gideon Osi -Publicity Secretary; James Alaka -Organising Secretary; Amaka Igboke -Women Leader; Murdi Irenede -Legal Adviser and Barrister Ibeshi.