On June 2, 2023, at exactly 9:00 am prompt, Justice Mohammed Madugu of the FCT Court 40 Bwari rose to hear Suit No: FCT/HC/CV/4068/2023 which has Otunba Camaru Lateef Ogidan (National Vice Chairman Southwest of APGA) and Alhaji Rabiu Mustapha (National Welfare Officer of APGA) are Claimants and Chief Victor Oye and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the 1st Respondent 2nd Respondents.
The two Claimants being executives of APGA under the leadership of Chief Edozie Njoku (whom the Supreme Court had on March 24, 2023 reaffirmed and reconfirmed as the authentic National Chairman of APGA, with Consequential Orders, whilst deleting the name of Chief Victor Oye from the Judgment and clearly stating that the latter had no business with APGA).
Appropriately, the Supreme Court served the Enrolment Order of its judgment on INEC on April 5, 2023. However, despite being in reception of the Supreme Court Enrolment Order, the Commission (which has continued to conduct itself poorly, especially, since the APGA leadership crisis) refused to recognize Chief Edozie Njoku as the authentic National Chairman of APGA as contained in the consequential orders of the Court.
Since April 5, 2023, INEC under the leadership of Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, by act of omission and commission, have shown the world that it has enormous powers; this includes powers to suppress a Supreme Court Judgment and appoint a National Chairman for any political party, as it so wishes. It is befuddling that a Commission which was created by law and funded by Tax Payers money would be leading a subversive crusade the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE BY JUSTICE OMOTOSHO OF FHC AGAINST SUPREME COURT JUDGEMENT ON APGA LEADERSHIP
Sequel to the Supreme Court Judgment, APGA candidates in the 2023 General Election under the leadership of Chief Edozie Njoku filed Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1750/2022 before Hon. Justice J.K Omotosho praying the Court to be declared the authentic candidates of the Party.
Reprehensibly, on March 28, 2023, without recourse to the corrected Judgment of the Apex Court (in Suit No: SC/CV/687/2021), J.K Omotosho, irritably and impertinently, like a hatchet man, abandoned the detailed corrected version of the Judgment and its consequential orders and exhumed the October 14, 2021 Judgment and relied on it to embarrass the Supreme Court.
Provocatively, Oye’s Counsel without sighting the corrected version of the Apex Court Judgment of March 24, 2013 derailed the Court’s thought process by claiming that the corrected Judgment was merely about accidental slip and typographical error and had no bearing on the substance of the matter. By way of assumption, Omotosho concluded that it is impossible for Chief Edozie Njoku to lay claims to any benefit to the March 24, 2023 Judgment.
Notably, the grey area in the APGA matter is simply about two conventions – Awka and Owerri Conventions that held on the same date – May 31, 2019. Impressively, the two Supreme Court decisions on October 14, 2019 and March 24, 2023 NEVER MENTIONED anything about Awka. They were all about Owerri Convention and Oye had no business with Owerri Convention.
Instructively, it beggars disbelief that whilst the Supreme Court has categorically and expressly stated that Victor Oye’s name be deleted from any document that has to do with APGA, one wonders on what strength of logic that INEC is still obliging Oye recognition, even when the Supreme Court Judgment has pronounced anathema sit on Ozonkpu Victor Oye.
Peevishly, Omotosho’s hand-carry Judgment was a pervasive attempt to reopen and retry a matter that the Apex Court had already laid to rest. The Judge claimed Chief Edozie Njoku was not a party to the Suit and that the Supreme Court had dismissed matter.
Armed with J.K Omotosho’s Judgment Oye ran to INEC claiming that the Supreme Court’s Judgment of March 24, 2023 had been interpreted in his favor.
Contemptibly, Omotosho gave his Judgment on March 28, 2023, whereas, the CTC of the Supreme Court Judgment came out on March 29, 2023. So, how possible is it that Omotosho’s Judgment represented the opinion of the Supreme Court, when he gave his Judgment without setting his eyes on the Judgment of the Apex Court?
Therefore, the claim that Omotosho’s purported Judgment is an interpretation of the Supreme Court Judgment of March 24, 2023, is an orchestrated attempt to convert the Judiciary into Amphitheater.
Simply put, J.K Omotosho by his Judgment, elected to mock the Supreme Court and make the Justices in that Panel, who invested their time and energy to resolve the APGA leadership impasse look like worshippers of Baal.
FESTUS OKOYE: THE FESTERING SORE OF INEC
Armed with the incongruous Judgment of Omotosho, Oye ran to Festus Okoye and like Squealer, in the Orwellian satire, ‘Animal Farm’, Mr. Festus convinced the National Commissioners and the Legal Department of the Commission (which has outsourced its thinking faculty to him) that a Federal High Judgment potentially overrides and supersedes a Supreme Court Judgment.
Brazenly, Oye’s name was retained on INEC website on the irreconcilable logic that the Commission holds a Federal High Judgment far and above a Supreme Court Judgment.
Strangely, having usurped the responsibilities of the Legal Department of INEC, Festus Okoye issued one of the most embarrassing public notices on behalf of the Commission on May 9, 2023.
Surprisingly, it is one month since Festus Okoye committed a millennial blunder via his Public Notice on APGA Leadership (by stating to the contrary that Alhaji Garba Aliyu was the beneficiary of the Jigawa Judgment, whereas the Commission recognized Jude Okeke as the Acting National Chairman of APGA on June 30, 2021 and obliged him the privilege to field the name of Hon. Chuma Umeoji as the Party’s candidate for Anambra Governorship Election of November, 2021).
That the Commission is mute on this most embarrassing public notice exposes the Commission under Prof. Mahmood Yakubu as a transactional establishment.
Given Festus Okoye’s pedigree as a seasoned gentleman, a lawyer and an activist of repute and a man of noble birth, one had expected that a man in his mould, would have simply opted for a hara-kiri just like the typical Samurai monk or Zen; that would be the best way to make up for his sins.
ON OWERRI WE STAND
Recall that the leadership of APGA under Chief Edozie Njoku had statutorily notified INEC 21Days earlier of its National Executive Committee (NEC) Meeting slated for May 5, 2023.
On May 3, 2023 Chief Njoku’s lawyer wrote to INEC to remind them of its earlier memo on NEC Meeting. Strangely, Mr. Aminu Idris, the Director Election and Party Monitoring (EPM) of INEC bluntly refused to accept further letters from Njoku’s lawyers; thereby forcing them to resort to sending letters to the Commission via DHL courier service.
On May 5, 2023, owing to the crisis in the Party, the entire NEC and NWC rallied round Chief Edozie Njoku, invoked the extant provisions of the Owerri Constitution of APGA which emerged from the Owerri Convention of May 31, 2019 (often referred to as ‘ON OWERRI WE STAND’ by dedicated and loyal Party men and women) and extended the tenure of all the Executives at all levels, by one year.
Recall that tenure extension is not new in APGA. In 2014, during Victor Umeh’s administration, the leadership tussle between Chief Victor Umeh led Exco and Chief Barr Maxi Okwu led faction, the tenure of Chief Victor Umeh Excos were validly extended from 2014 to 2015. Thus paving way for the Congresses and Convention that produced Chief Victor Oye in May 2015.
APGA’s constitution made this provision to take care of a situation that may create leadership lacuna in the Party, which may arise as a result of crisis or due to other unforeseen circumstances.
Conscientiously, the tenure of the Chief Edozie Njoku’s led executives from the Ward, Local Government, State and National Levels were formally, officially and lawfully extended for another one year.
Instructively, the ONLY Constitution permissible by law in APGA is the Owerri Constitution of 2019 which was adopted and ratified at the Owerri Convention of May 31, 2019.
Unarguably, Owerri Convention is the only Convention affirmed and adopted by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Expectedly, Chief Edozie Njoku’s lawyers transmitted this information to INEC.
Having secured tenure extension for all the Executives, some members of the NWC under Chief Edozie Njoku went to Court and got an Order stopping Oye from his illegal Congresses and Convention.
It was this profound strategic move, by Chief Edozie Njoku led APGA that rattled and disorganized the plots of Oye and INEC; thereby putting them under undue pressure which led them into disobeying a Court Order.
MAY 10, 2023 COURT ORDER STOPPING OYE FROM HAVING ANYTHING TO DO WITH APGA.
It is quite obvious that Njoku had lured Oye into another trap just as he did in 2019. Since 2019, Oye had been in and out of Courts to give legal backing to the illegal Awka Convention to no avail.
So, when the Court slammed Court Order on Oye on May 10, 2023, it became clear that Njoku has once more lured Oye into another deadly trap which saw him disobeying and discarding a subsisting Court Order. But, this time, there is a difference.
Previously, Oye and his co travelers had disobeyed Court Order without any iota of penalty. But, this time around, there is a world of difference, especially with the Court serving Oye and INEC Chairman Forms 48 & 49 for the commencement of committal proceedings on them.
COMMITTAL RPOCEEDINGS AGAINST INEC CHAIRMAN AND VICTOR OYE: COURT RESERVES JUDGMENT
After an extensive, in-depth and profound research, Justice Mohamed Madugu gave his ruling on June 2, 2023 and ruled that the application by Onyechi Ikpeazu’s for the Court to adjourn sine dine (with regards to his address on the jurisdiction of the Court) pending the outcome of the Interlocutory Appeal was frivolous and an attempt to lead the Court astray. The Court frowned at Onyechi Ikpeazu’s attempt to be smart by half and queried why he did not seek Leave of Court to stand down further proceedings on the matter.
The Judge’s Ruling cited impeccable authorities that the suit should go on, bearing in mind that the letter from the FCT Court 40 Appeal section clearly indicted Onyechi Ikpeazu’s purported Appeal for not following due process of the Court.
Going by the letter tendered at the Court, the Chief Registrar of the Apo High Court Division made it clear that the transmission of Appeal Process for CA/ABJ/CV/582/2023 did not follow the proper Appeal procedure.
The Court went ahead to further rule that it shall take both the Preliminary Objection and the Originating Summons.
The lawyer standing in for Onyechi Ikpeazu requested the Court to adjourn till June 7, 2023 to allow the Learned Silk to be present, as he is currently in the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT).
Counsel to Otunba Camaru, Mike Ajara responded with abundant references that a Counsel before the Court, by way of representation is deemed fit and capable to withstand any legal fireworks. He insisted that the request made by Oye’s Counsel to adjourn till June 7, 2023 was another ploy to derail the Court.
After heated arguments, on whether or not to proceed, the Court agreed to take both the Preliminary Objection and Originating Summons on June 2, 2023.
Ikpeazu’s representative told the Court that they have a Judgment Order from Hon. Justice H.O Ozoh of the Anambra State High Court Otuocha Division (Suit No: OT/79/2023) which authorized them to go on with the Congresses and Convention at Awka.
Interestingly, this Judgment was gotten on May 12, 2023. That is barely 48hrs after the Bwari Court gave its Orders on May 10, 2023. Finally, the Court reserved Judgment for a date to be given to the Parties. But, how Onyechi Ikpeazu was able to procure a Judgment of Court within 48hours is really and truly intriguing.