Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
The Enugu Division of the Court of Appeal wednesday resolved the leadership crisis rocking the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) ahead of the November 18 gubernatorial election in Anambra State.
The court in resolving the crisis affirmed Chief Victor Ike Oye as the authentic National Chairman of the party and by so doing authorised him to forward the name of Governor Willie Obiano as the partyâ€™s candidate for the governorship election to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In a unanimous judgement delivered by a three-man panel of the court led by Justice Abdul Aboki, the court set aside the judgment of an Enugu High Court which on May 22, 2017 sacked Oye and in his place ordered that Chief Martin Agbaso be recognised as Acting National Chairman of the party.
It observed that the court was in breach of fair hearing when it sacked Oye without hearing his own side in the matter, when he would eventually suffer the damage imposed by the courtâ€™s ruling.
Oye had headed for the appellate court to challenge the order of Justice A. R. Ozoemena of the Enugu State High Court.
The high courtâ€™s decision followed an application brought to it by the partyâ€™s Deputy Chairman in Enugu State, Mike Alioke, asking the court for an order of mandamus, compelling INEC to recognise the decision of APGA appointing Agbaso as the acting national chairman of the party.
Alioke had also pleaded with the court for a declaration that by section 4 of the Police Act, both the Inspector General of Police and the Enugu State Commissioner of Police are bound to ensure the compliance of the decision of APGA regarding the appointment of Agbaso as the acting national chairman of the party in order to forestall a breakdown of law and order. He had also prayed for an order prohibiting INEC and its privies from recognizing or accepting any other person as the national chairman of APGA other than the Agbaso as submitted to it by the party.
But in delivering its judgment in the appeal, the appellate court resolved all the issues formulated in favour of Oye noting â€œthe appeal has merit and accordingly, the judgment of the Enugu State High Court is hereby set aside. The parties should bear their costs.â€
Other members of the panel, Justice Bolaji Yesuf and Justice Ibrahim Shatta Bdlya concurred with the lead judgment.
Reacting to the judgment, counsel to Oye, Chief Emeka Etiaba (SAN), applauded the court for ending the crisis in the party which would have adversely affected the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra State.
â€œAll the troubles the lower court foisted on not just the party but democracy in Nigeria has been doused and solutions have come. We thank the court of appeal for resolving the matter and calming frayed nerves.
â€œThe implication is that Oye is the authentic National Chairman of APGA. He is the only one to function and nominate Governor Obiano as the partyâ€™s candidate with the National Secretary, Labaran Maku,â€ he said.
On his part, counsel to the respondents, Ngozi Uzoma simply thanked the court for the judgment pledging to make formal reaction after consulting with his clients.