The Hon Chairman,
Independent National Electoral Commission,
RE: JUDGMENT IN SUIT NO FHC/ABJ/CS/563/2013 CHIEF MAXI OKWU & ORS V CHIEF VICTOR UMEH AND ORS.
Our attention has been drawn to a letter titled as above dated 22nd January 2014 addressed to you, and co-signed by our erstwhile National Chairman and Secretary.
The duo and their collaborators have shown utmost contempt for the constitution, rules and regulations of our party, laws of this nation and our law courts. In total disobedience to a valid and subsisting final judgment in which your commission and themselves were parties, they have been misbehaving as if the country is a jungle where everyman is on his own and only the fittest survive.
Since judgment was delivered against them on 15th January 2014 to their chagrin, they have used all sorts of unprintable words and guttersnipe language to insult Justice Abdulkadir Kafarati both privately and in the media. On Saturday 18th January 2014, at Awka in a televised show of lawlessness they gathered, and called the gathering an APGA national executive council meeting (NEC). They also claim to have called a national convention for Valentine’s Day on 14th February 2014.
Note that in this letter to you, they style themselves National Chairman and Secretary in total defiance of the Court judgment which sacked them from office. This is quite in character, since this saga began. Please note that we have since commenced committal proceedings against them for contempt of Court with the issuance of Form 48.
Our laws proceed from the principle that all Court orders no matter how ‘objectionable’ should be obeyed until vacated or set aside. Secondly a judgment victor/creditor is entitled to immediate enjoyment of the fruits of his victory. Only in special circumstance would this right be suspended or stayed as an equitable remedy. A contemnor like Umeh and Shinkafi will get no respite from the courts till they purge themselves of their atrocious contempt of the Courts and Law. They seem not to know that an application for stay of execution is not a stay of execution. They also mischievously forget that Courts do not stay declaratory reliefs. The Court of Appeal Enugu Division in the case they are latching on said at page 8;
‘Furthermore, it is noteworthy that the appellants/applicant’s application for a stay of execution of the declaratory reliefs contained in the judgment of the trail court in question, was refused whist the injunctive relief against the appellant In the said judgment, was stayed by the Court on 8th April 2013.’
Thirdly, since the duo lost on 15th January 2014, they have also resorted to massive propaganda by spinning the legal situation concerning their ouster. All the issues they now raise were canvassed unsuccessfully before the Court by their lead counsel a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN). They have now shifted the contest to the public arena to beguile the unlearned public, and continue as permanent chairman and secretary respectively of our great party.
Hon Chairman, this case and the judgment has little or no relationship with the earlier Jude Okuli case they cite. What was the decision of the Court of Appeal in the earlier case? The bare bones of Umeh’s appeal which the court allowed is as follows:
- Jude Okuli the plaintiff in the Enugu High Court, and respondent on Appeal had no locus standi to bring the suit in the first instance.
- The Court of Appeal stated obiter that the Okuli case ‘bordered’ on internal party affairs. But that it could not really go into this matter since ‘The feature of lack of locus standi of the respondent, dealt a fatal/deadly blow on the jurisdiction of the court below to entertain the said action.’
- The legality or otherwise of the February 10th 2011 convention of APGA at Awka was not in issue as the Plaintiff never raised it. Issue was therefore not joined on it.
- It was the learned trial Chief Judge who suo motu did so. For this the Court of Appeal called him ‘father Christmas’.
- Specific findings and orders were made on APGA which was not a party to the case. The Court of Appeal said you do not ‘shave a man’s head in his absence.’
This we proffer as an ‘idiot’s guide’ to the so-called victory by Umeh in the Court of Appeal Enugu which he is now holding up as a talisman. Nowhere in that judgment did the Court make any finding that he was validly elected or extant national chairman of APGA. The Court could not have considered the issue since it was not properly before it that Umeh was never re-elected after his tenure expired on 2nd December 2010. Further that he along with his partner Shinkafi had been expelled from the party by the Sadik Massalla leadership in 2012.
These issues being very much alive, it took Maxi Okwu case to address them. The salient points from that judgment in this case are as follow:
- Maxi Okwu and his co-plaintiffs particularly Maxi Okwu have locus standi.
- There is a subsisting judgment of the High Court of Anambra state sitting in Awka affirming the validity of the 8th April 2013 convention of APGA at Awka.
- The Court of Appeal Enugu Division on 10th July 2013 struck out the Appeal filed on it. Going by Order 11 Rule 5 of the Court of Appeal rules, 2011 tantamount to a dismissal on merits.
- Pro tanto until set aside through the courts and not by spin the Justice Ozor judgment of 27th May 2013 stands.
We believe you lead a law-abiding institution. As a creation of the Constitution your mandate is election management body and supervision of political parties but definitely not an alternative law court. As a party to this suit where you were fully represented by counsel the position is clear. We note that your commission did not file any counter affidavit to all the averments we made in the supporting affidavit to the originating summons.
We note also that you issued a letter dated 8th May 2013 where you for stated your reason ‘to continue to relate with Chief Sir Victor Umeh as the national Chairman of APGA’. However at a subsequent NTA platform program you made a clarification that the letter was based on the legal status quo. Should there be a change you would react appropriately.
In the present circumstances therefore, we urge you to immediately comply with the direct order of court on your commission as follows:
‘8. That an Order is granted directing the 3rd Defendant to deal with the Plaintiffs and all those they represent as the duly elected National officers of APGA.’
Please accept the re-affirmation of our highest regards.
Chief Maxi Okwu
Cc All National Commissioners
Director PPM & L
Director Legal Services