Tobi Soniyi and Onyebuchi Ezigbo
An Abuja High Court Thursday renewed its order made on August 7 restraining Sadiq Massalla and Ifedi Okwenna from parading themselves as the acting National Chairman and acting National Secretary of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) respectively.
At the resumed hearing of the suit filed by the party, its Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh and the Secretary, Alhaji Sani Shinkafi, Justice Husseni Baba-Yusuf said his earlier order subsisted pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
While adjourning the matter to September 13 for hearing of the motion on notice, the judge directed that counsel to the defendants, James Ikenyi, who had complained that he was not served with the court’s process be served in court.
Ikenyi had told the court that his clients got notice of the case on the pages of newspapers.
Meanwhile, the faction of the party loyal to Massalla has asked Justice Yusuf to disqualify himself from adjudicating on the suit filed by the Chief Victor Umeh-led loyalists which is pending before his court.
The group in a petition forwarded to the Chief Judge of the FCT and dated August 15, asked the Chief Judge to re-assign the matter, alleging that Justice Yusuf “is a close family friend of Chief Victor Umeh” and so, would not dispense justice in the matter.
“Justice Baba Yusuf because of his closeness to Chief Victor Umeh has taken over the duties of the Registrars of the court as it relates to the issuance of the Certified True Copy duly applied and paid for and he thereby delved in the arena by questioning the interest of the applicant. It is noteworthy that the CTC has not been issued till today by Justice Baba Yusuf as against the express provisions of the Evidence Act and the Freedom of Information Act (FoI), “ Massala said.
The trial judge had on August 7, through an ex-parte application made by the Umeh-led executive given an order restraining Masalla and Dr. Ifedi Okwenna, to desist from parading themselves as leaders of the party.
In the petition, Masalla drew the attention of the judge to the existence of restraining order against Umeh made by the High Court of Enugu State, which they stressed was made before approaching Justice Yusuf’s court to obtain a contradictory restraining order against them.
The three-page petition which was signed by Okwenna asked the FCT-CJ to take steps to remove Justice Yusuf from further handling the matter filed in his court by the Umeh faction.
The petition reads: “It is therefore, with a great sense of responsibility and grave concern that I address this petition to you against the judicial conduct of Hon. Justice Husseini Baba Yusuf, in the hearing of Suit No. FCT/HC/CV/4278/2012 in which I (Okwenna) am the 2nd defendant on record, which conduct constitutes a threat to the image and integrity of the judiciary in Nigeria and the efficacy of the system of administration of justice in the country.”
They claimed that Justice Yusuf allegedly “breached the Judicial Oath as provided for in the Seventh Schedule of the 1999 constitution which he subscribed to under Section 290 (1) of the Constitution as he failed to perform his judicial functions honestly as provided in the Judicial Oath.”
They also claimed that they were yet to obtain a Certified True Copy (CTC) of the ruling even though they had since August 10 applied and paid for same through one E. O. Ogbonnaya.
“In the circumstance, I pray that Hon. Justice Baba Yusuf be promptly disqualified from hearing the suit No. FCT/HC/CV/4278/2012, while the allegations are properly investigated with a view to preserving the dignity of the temple of justice and all those who minister therein,” the petition stated.