Court Refuses to Stop APC National Convention


• Governors defer decision on consensus list

Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Alex Enumah in Abuja

An attempt to truncate the National Convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) scheduled for Saturday, collapsed Wednesday as a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court refused a request in that regard by an aggrieved member.

Delivering ruling in an originating summons filed by an aggrieved member of the party, Udo Ibe from Abia State, Justice Sylvanus Oriji held that stopping the national convention would do injustice to others who were not parties in the dispute brought by the plaintiff.

Ibe had dragged the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the court, praying for an order of mandatory injunction, compelling INEC to stop recognising APC as a political party under the 1999 Constitution or the Electoral Act 2010 as amended for any purpose stipulated under the said constitution or the electoral act.

The plaintiff also prayed the court for an order of perpetual injunction, stopping APC and its agents from excluding him as a contestant to the office of the Chairman of Ania Ward, Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State, through the process of “guided congress” or any manner inconsistent with the constitution of the party.

The grouse of the plaintiff was that the tenure of officers of Ania Ward had expired at the time they planned the congress and as such the ward congress was illegal and unlawful.

Besides, Ibe also felt aggrieved with his alleged exclusion from participating as a chairmanship aspirant for the ward.

When the matter came up Wednesday, counsel to APC, Ayotunde Ogunleye, informed the court that the court processes had just been served on the APC and that he needed time to peruse the papers and respond to them accordingly.

Ogunleye, therefore, applied for an adjournment to enable him file his response on behalf of APC as required by law.

However, counsel to the plaintiff, Kalu Kalu, who did not object to the request for an adjournment, prayed the court to order parties in the matter to maintain status quo, pending the resolution of the originating summons of his client.

Kalu drew the attention of the court to the fact that the APC as the 1st defendant had slated its national convention for this Saturday and that the case of his client would be destroyed if status quo was not maintained by the parties.

But counsel to the APC urged the court to decline granting the request on the grounds that it would affect others who are not parties in the suit.

Ogunleye further argued that the order requested by the plaintiff is not related to the main suit.

Justice Oriji, however, disagreed with him on the request for status quo, adding that the order sought if granted would affect the parties who are not parties in the suit.

The judge subsequently adjourned the matter till July 5 for hearing of the originating summons.

In a related development, the Abuja division of the Federal High Court, also refused to stop the Hon Babatunde Balogun-led executive committee (Exco) of Lagos branch of APC from participating in the forthcoming national convention.

Justice Binta Nyako, who declined to stop the Balogun group, said that the principle of fair hearing would be breached since only one person instituted the court action.

Delivering ruling in an ex-parte motion filed by an aggrieved contestant in the May 12, 2018 Lagos APC Congress, Bunmi Tayo Church, Justice Nyako said that it would be unfair to stop the Balogun faction in view of the limited time to the convention slated for June 23, 2018 in Abuja.

In declining to grant the exparte motion, the judge held that the plaintiff was just one out of 1,885 aspirants vying for positions during the congress.

Justice Nyako said that the plaintiff did not help himself in his claim that he was prevented from participating at the state congress, adding that it is the law that anyone who did not participate in an election cannot challenge the outcome of that election.

The court held that Church, having not participated in the May 12 Lagos State APC congress, cannot use the ex-parte application to challenge the outcome of the congress.

Besides, Justice Nyako said that hundreds of others who participated in the congress will be denied fair hearing if the application is granted because they were not brought before the court by the applicant (Church), who instituted the court action in his personal capacity.

Justice Nyako therefore ordered that the originating summons filed by the plaintiff/applicant, through his counsel, Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN) will be given accelerated hearing.

However, Justice Babatunde Quadri, who read the ruling on behalf of Justice Nyako, who was said to be bereaved, however, did not give a definite date for the hearing of the originating summons, saying that Justice Nyako will fix a convenient date for the matter to be heard.

Governors Defer Decision on Consensus List

Meanwhile, APC governors Wednesday said they had agreed in principle to form a consensus on the choice of the next leaders of the party at the convention.

They, however, differed the decision on the consensus list of officers, saying it would be finalised Thursday.

Speaking to journalists shortly after their meeting that lasted about two hours Wednesday in Abuja, the Governor of Nasarawa State, Tanko Al-Makura said: “I want to assure you that we governors have agreed to work for consensus so that the election will be rancour free for the betterment of the country.”

With regard to the issue of adoption of unity list of aspirants, the governor said the matter was being fine-tuned and that it would be ready by Thursday.

Also speaking on the outcome of the meeting, the chairman of the APC national convention committee, Alhaji Abubakar Badaru, said the governors resolved that they would go back to their respective zones to consult and produce a consensus list.

On the outcome of screening appeal, Badaru said only 17 persons were dropped, adding that the Governor Rochas Okorocha-led committee has also submitted its report on the petitions written against some National Working Committee (NWC) members seeking re-election for final deliberation by the convention committee.

Eighteen governors and two deputy governors attended the meeting.

Meanwhile, frontline chairmanship aspirant for the office of National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, has vowed to ensure that all party men, including the president and other elected office holders subject themselves to the dictates of the party when he becomes the national chairman of the APC.

The former governor of Edo State, who decried the intra party disputes in APC, said the present situation where the party appeared to be the opposition to itself will not be acceptable.

Speaking Wednesday in Abuja when he held an interactive session with young stakeholders of APC, Oshiomhole said there was the need to be very clear on the fact that “anyone elected on our platform, including the president will be expected to conduct government and governance in a way that promote the core values of progressive governance”.

He assured the youths that when he emerges the next national chairman, his leadership would be very clear on the issues of economy and governance in a way that promote core values of progressives governance.