By Izunna Okafor, Awka
The judgement of Hon. Justice Mohammed A. Madugu of the FCT High Court, Bwari Judicial Division, has awaken the leadership rift rending the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).
The judgement, which was delivered on Tuesday, June 6, came barely one week after the outgone national leadership of Dr. Victor Oye-led faction of the party held its National Convention, which produced Barrister Sylvester Ezeokenwa as the new APGA National Chairman.
Justice Magudu, in the judgement, held that all the actions taken by Chief Victor Oye are “illegal, null and of no effect whatsoever”, and therefore, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to immediately recognize a factional National Chairman of APGA, Chief Edozie Njoku as the authentic Chairman of the Party.
The judgement was delivered on a suit filed against Chief Victor Ike Oye and the Independent National Electoral Commission by Otunba Kamaru Lateef Ogidan (the National Vice Chairman, South West Geopolitical Zone of APGA) and Alhaji Rabiu Mustapha (the National Welfare Officer of APGA), who are two APGA National Working Committee members under the leadership of Chief Edozie Njoku.
According to the Court, Oye and INEC are bound to obey the judgement of the Supreme Court delivered on October 14, 2021, and which was subsequently corrected on March 24, 2023, with the name of Edozie Njoku as APGA National Chairman.
While stressing that Oye had no locus to conduct the National Convention or parade himself as the National Chairman of APGA; the Court also held that INEC must also obey the judgement of the Supreme Court and recognize Njoku as the National Chairman of the Party, which implies that all the congresses, party primaries, and conventions so far conducted by Oye have been nullified and voided by the judgement.
Meanwhile, the new leadership of APGA that emerged from the National Convention recently conducted by the outgone national leadership of Dr. Victor Oye-led faction of the the Party has dismissed the judgement of the High Court as “perverse and overreaching pronouncements”
Tackling the judgement this in a press statement issued on Tuesday, the new factional Publicity Secretary of the APGA, Mr. Ejimofor Opara, said the Party had no business whatsoever with either the proceedings before the trial judge or the judgment delivered by him.
He urged the Party’s supporters to disregard the claim that the said judgement has affected the new leadership of the Party, Chaired by Barr. Ezeokenwa.
His statement partly reads, “Ordinarily, the leadership of APGA would have ignored the perverse and overreaching pronouncements made by Justice Madugu as APGA had no business whatsoever with the proceedings before the said Court. However, we are constrained to issue this publication for the benefit of the our esteemed party members and indeed the general public who may be ignorant of the correct implications of the said judgment.
“Our great party had raised alarm concerning the curious steps taken by Justice Madugu in the course of the proceedings particularly the Ruling he delivered on Friday, 2nd of June, 2023, wherein the Court purportedly declared as incompetent, an appeal pending before the Court of Appeal. Thus, the judgment of the Court didn’t come as a surprise to our great party.
“Apparently more befuddling is the ignominious attempt by the Judge to pronounce upon the tenure of the plaintiffs, which by their claim before the court had been rendered academic. By stating explicitly, in their supporting affidavit, that there were elected into office on the 31st of May, 2019 for a 4 year period, the plaintiffs suit before the court expired or elapsed on the 31st of May, 2023. Essentially, the court no longer had the vires or jurisdiction to deliver the judgment it delivered on 6th of June, 2023.
“In the light of the foregoing, we wish to state emphatically that APGA has no business whatsoever with either the proceedings before Justice Magudu or the judgment delivered by him on Tuesday, 6th of June, 2023. Our great party, APGA was not a party in the said suit and is by law not bound by the outcome or judgment purportedly delivered by the Trial Judge.
“Interestingly, the issues pertaining to the correct interpretation of the Supreme Court Ruling of 24th March, 2023, which the Court purportedly delved into has been laid to rest by the judgments of 2 Federal High Courts Coram Hon Justice James Kolawole Omotosho and Hon Justice H A Nganjiwa of the Federal High Court, Abuja Division and Awka Division respectively.
“What more, the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja Division delivered on the 28th of March, 2023 has further been affirmed by the Court of Appeal in its judgment delivered on the 2nd of June, 2023. By the said judgment of the Court of Appeal which affirmed the judgment of Justice James Omotosho, Dr Victor Ike Oye was the National Chairman of APGA entitled to carry out the functions of that office.
“We wish to reiterate the fact that the nationwide congresses and National Convention of APGA were conducted in due deference and compliance with the judgment of the High Court of Anambra State, Otuocha Judicial Division which compelled APGA to conduct its congresses and National Convention before the expiration of the tenure of its current officers. Dr Victor Ike Oye cannot, under any circumstances whatsoever, be the same person as APGA. The All Progressives Grand Alliance is a duly registered political party with its common seal and thus has the full right to sue or be sued in its name.
“We therefore enjoin our esteemed members, supporters and the general public to disregard the claim of any alleged judgment affecting the leadership of APGA. Barr Sly Ezeokenwa remains the duly elected National Chairman of APGA having emerged from a proper National Convention duly monitored by INEC. Thus, he is the rightful person duly recognised by law to carry out the functions of the office.”
The said judgement has, however, sparked of a chain of reactions and counter reactions among supporters of the two factions of the Party, especially on the social media platforms, where they argue and trade words on the validity, applicability, and the implication of the judgement, as well as on who is the authentic Chairman of the party, given the various judgements so far delivered on the age-old/unending APGA leadership rifts and litigations.
It would be recalled that the APGA leadership tussle between Njoku and Oye began in 2019.
That year, Mr Oye was elected for a second term at a national convention in Akwa, Anambra State.
However, another group, led by Mr. Njoku organised a parallel convention in Owerri, Imo State, where he was elected as national chairman. Since then, the duo has been in and out of court.