Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Caretaker committee chairmen of the 23 local government councils in Rivers State have expressed concern over moves by the Court of Appeal to resume hearing on an appeal brought against the state government by sacked council chairmen elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The chairmen, under the aegis of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), insisted that it was against the norm for the Court of Appeal to hear a matter that is pending at the Supreme Court.
The elected council chairmen were sacked by the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt on July 9, 2015 and they approached the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division on June 20, 2015 to challenge their ouster.
Thereafter, the state government challenged the decision of the Court of Appeal, which granted the plea of the elected chairmen to appeal the decision of the lower court before the Supreme Court and the appeal is still pending.
Addressing journalists in Port Harcourt yesterday, spokesman of ALGON in the state and Caretaker Committee Chairman of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local government area of the state, Osi Olisa, wondered why the Appeal Court would commence hearing on the matter, when it is still pending before the Supreme Court.
Olisa said: â€œIn spite of the appeal now pending and ongoing before the Supreme Court, another proceeding dealing on the same subject has been commenced by members of the All Progressives Congress at the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt vide appeal No: CA/PH/338/2016; the aim of which is to force a fait accompli on the Supreme C in appeal No: SC/536/2016.
â€œThe attention of the Justices of the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt Division has been drawn to the proceedings before the Supreme Court but rather than follow the laid down principles in a long line of judicial proceedings which preludes the Court of Appeal from proceeding with a matter when an appeal touching on the matter has been entered in the in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal is poised to proceed without regard to the Supreme Court.
â€œThe posture of the Court of Appeal leaves a lot of room for concern because our judicial experience with some justices on the panel of the Court of Appeal has been unsavoury.
â€œThe Court of Appeal intends to proceed with the hearing of the appeal even after finding as a fact that some of the parties have not been served with the processes and in spite of the several pending motions filed by some of the parties in the matter including an application for stag of proceeding pending the hearing of the appeal at the Supreme Court.â€
The ALGON spokesman alleged that members of the APC in the state, led by the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, have boosted that they will use the Court of Appeal to take over the local government councils in the state.
He stated that the President of the Court of Appeal has already constituted a special panel to hear the matter with a task to deliver a judgment in favour of the APC against all odds.
Olisa said: â€œMembers of the All Progressives Congress led by the Transportation Minister, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi have continued to boast that they will use the Court of Appeal to take over the local government councils in Rivers State.
â€œWe have also received information that a special panel have been constituted by the President of the Court of Appeal to hear the matter and the latest information we have is that the panel has only one task, to deliver a judgement in favour of the APC against all odds.â€
He therefore called on the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnogen, to call his men to order to ensure that justice was not miscarried.