By Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
The Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt has ordered a stay of execution on the order of the Rivers State High Court which nullified the Ward, Local Government and State congresses of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
The APC had approached the Court of Appeal seeking for amongst others an order of stay of execution on the High Court order obtained by aggrieved members of the party on May 30, 2018.
Ruling on the matter, Hon. Justices, Isaiah Akeju, Ifeoma Jombo-Offo and Bitrus Sanga, unanimously dismissed all five applications filed by the aggrieved members of the APC.
However counsel to the parties differed in their interpretation of the Appeal Court ruling.
Addressing journalists shortly after the court session, counsel to the APC, Tunduru Ede, said with the ruling, non-statutory delegates of the party are free to participate in the partyâ€™s national convention scheduled to hold on Saturday, June 23.
Ede said, â€œYou all heard clearly what the Court of Appeal said. The respondents opposed the appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress; the Court of Appeal said no, the appeal should be entered. They said the appeal should be dismissed but the Court said no and struck out all their applications.
â€œWe applied that the order made by the trial Court should be stayed and should not be executed and the Court agreed. You are all well aware of the orders the Court made. These are very clear issues. The Court directed us to file our briefs in accordance to the rules of the Court of Appeal.
â€œThe APC delegates are to go to Abuja for the convention. Speaking strictly as a counsel in this matter, all the applications of APC before this Court succeeded.
But on his part, counsel to the aggrieved APC members, Henry Bello, disagreed with Ede, insisting that despite the ruling of Court of Appeal, only statutory delegates of the party would participate in the convention in line with the ruling of the State High Court on May 30.
Bello said, â€œThe genesis of this matter is an order made by the High Court of Rivers State on the May 11, 2018 after some miscreants had tried to overwhelm the Court. But to the glory of God, the law enforcement agencies were able to restore sanity and the Court was able to sit on that day and delivered an Order asking the APC not to conduct further congresses based on the congress of May 5.
â€œThe party now appealed against that Order. Now what we did here today was ruling concerning five applications that were moved before this honourable court on Tuesday, June, 19, 2018. The first was a preliminary objection, the Court refused it; the second was a preliminary objection and the Court also refused it.
â€œThe Court stayed execution of the ruling of the lower Court, but the Court did not stay proceedings.
What it means therefore is that proceedings will continue before the High Court of Rivers State. The matter is adjourned to June 26 2018, in the High Court of Rivers State.
â€œIt is also important to mention that the lower Court had made an Order on 30th of May, 2018, setting aside the congresses conducted on May 19, 20 and 21.
â€œThe implication therefore is that the delegates that will represent APC at the national convention of Saturday, 23 June, 2018 are the statutory delegates and those who are to continue from now as Working Committee of APC in Rivers State and as executives of APC in Rivers State are those who had been there before because of the Order of May 30, 2018 of the lower Court, which is still potent.â€