File photo of former Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.
Court Upholds Wike’s Right to Defend Himself, Warns Against Breach of Fundamental Rights in PDP’s Suspension or Expulsion
The Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has the authority to suspend or expel former Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike as a member, but must follow due process in doing so. Justice James Omotosho made this pronouncement on Wednesday while delivering judgment in a suit filed by Wike to prevent the PDP from suspending or expelling him without affording him a fair hearing.
Justice Omotosho emphasized that suspending or expelling Wike without providing him the opportunity to defend himself would violate his fundamental rights as enshrined in both the PDP and the country’s constitutions. The judge acknowledged that while the party has the right to take disciplinary action against its members, such action must be carried out in accordance with its own rules and regulations.
The judge further stated that although the court typically avoids intervening in the internal affairs of political parties, it can step in when a member’s rights are violated by the party without adhering to its own procedures. He highlighted that fundamental human rights are constitutionally protected and inviolable, and the court will do everything within its power to uphold them when they need to be enforced.
However, Justice Omotosho clarified that while these rights are fundamental and sacrosanct, they are not absolute. He emphasized that any member of a political party who appears before a disciplinary committee should be given a fair opportunity to defend themselves. If such an opportunity is denied, any decision made against the member would be null and void.
Furthermore, Justice Omotosho affirmed Wike’s right to associate and stated that the threat of dismissal without inviting him to defend himself was in violation of Article 57(1)(2) of the party’s constitution. He also noted that the national chairman of the PDP and his representatives are obligated to uphold constitutional democracy.
It is important to mention that Wike filed this lawsuit prior to the last general elections.[logo-slider]