National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Umeh Saturday raised the alarm over what he described as an attempt by Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State to “procure” a judgement from the state judiciary with the aim of validating the purported convention organised by his group in Awka and by so doing undermine the decision of the Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal on the matter.
Umeh who briefed newsmen in Enugu, said the governor was making desperate efforts to undermine the decision of the appellate court which last month delivered a ruling staying the execution of the judgement of the Enugu State High Court which sacked the entire members of the APGA National Working Committee (NWC), pending on the determination of the suit.
The APGA chairman disclosed that the governor had used the nephew and Personal Assistant to Hon. Callistus Illozumba, Commissioner for Works in Anambra State, Micheal Joe-Onwudinjo to file a suit challenging the said convention held on April 8 in Awka apparently in a bid to fraudulently get the judiciary to endorse the said convention without recourse to the ruling of the appellate court.
While accusing the governor of working tirelessly to ensure that the party did not come out of its present crisis by filing frivolous suits in several courts across the country “using his cronies”, Umeh called on the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), to help rescue the party from the hands of some of her judges at the state level who have to a large extent compromised their positions all in a bid to carry out the directives of those who are bent on destroying the nation’s democracy.
He specifically alleged that a High Court Judge in Anambra, Justice Hope Ozor displayed serious act of partisanship in the APGA crisis, especially with the way he disregarded all the documents before him which challenged his continued handling of the matter in view of the appellate court decision of the party crisis and therefore pleaded with the CJN to halt the situation before it degenerates to an unmanageable level.
“You will recall that about 29/04/13, an aide to the commissioner for works in Anambra State filed an action at the state High Court asking the court to nullify the national convention conducted by Obi’s faction of APGA on April 8, 2013. When we got to know about the suit the next day, we rushed to the court to get the processes filed so as to file application to be joined in the suit.
“In the said suit, the plaintiff, sued Maxi Okwu and those who purportedly emerged with him at the said convention, those who were equally elected as party officials at the state level in Anambra were joined and also APGA was sued as a third defendant. Upon getting the processes, we filed an application to be joined in the suit. We also briefed a lawyer to represent the party in the state. Our chairman in the state, Mike Kwentoh and his secretary also applied to be joined in the suit,” he averred. “On the May 7 when we came to court, the judge ordered that he will hear the applications on May 24. The first application was on joinder and another one on which of the two counsels who claimed to be representing APGA as actually qualified to represent the party.”
This is because, Maxi Okwu hired a lawyer and I also hired a lawyer to represent the party as the party’s National chairman.
“On May 24 when we came to court, the judge, Justice Hope Ozor heard the two applications for four hours before taking a short adjournment. By 3.30pm when he returned to deliver a short ruling, he said that on the issue of counsel, that the plaintiff sued Maxi Okwu faction of APGA and as such it is Maxi that should bring his counsel. He also struck out our application for joinder. He then asked the parties to adopt their written addresses. Within few minutes, he concluded hearing and adjourned for judgement by May 27, which is tomorrow, Monday.
“It’s instructive to note that in our applications, we filed the ruling of the appeal court of April 8 which stayed the execution of the Enugu high court judgment; we also submitted the letter from INEC recognising me as the party’s national chairman pending the determination of the suit at the appellate court, but the judge decided to overlook all these and adjourned for judgment for Monday. To further show that Obi was determined to destroy the judiciary, the other remaining defendants, all filed counter claims but the plaintiff did not file anything in reply.
“From the scenario painted, it has become obvious that Justice Ozor who was assigned the case to handle has been procured to deliver a judgment that would undermine the judgment of the Appeal Court . According to their arrangement, the judge will validate the convention by Monday, despite the order of the court of appeal staying the execution of the Enugu court order. By the strength of the judgment, Maxi will begin to parade himself as party chairman. This will be an affront on the appeal ruling hich has restored me as the APGA chairman. I want to alert the CJN on the concerted efforts by Obi to use the machinery of the state high court to destroy the party and the judiciary.
“He first procured the Chief Judge of Enugu state in this mission. I wrote a petition against the CJ, but despite the pendency of the petition, the CJ went ahead to deliver his judgment. Because the CJN did nothing about our petition, Obi has now procured another judge to continue with his act. I want to alert the CJN to immediately intervene in the frivolous actions being carried out by Obi which have in most cases sabotaged decisions already rendered by higher courts through the use of lower court.
“The obvious clash between the two courts is a bad omen for the judiciary. CJN should not allow that to happen. If it’s allowed, the judiciary will continue to be ridiculed. When a lower court will brazenly deliver a ruling that will be in conflict with decision already taken by a higher court, it simply sends a very dangerous signal. What we are going to see on Monday is what is called judicial impertinence where a judge will disrespect the ruling of a higher court. This must be halted,” he said.