By Alex Enumah
Justice Danlami Senchi of an Abuja High Court on Wednesday ordered former governor of Edo State, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, to step aside as the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The order is pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit seeking his removal from office as the National Chairman of the ruling APC.
Justice Senchi, who gave the order in a ruling on an interlocutory injunction filed by one Mustapha Salihu and five others, also ordered Oshiomhole to stop parading himself as the National Chairman of the APC until the issues challenging his leadership of the party is resolved.
The plaintiffs in the application filed on January 16, 2020 and argued by their lawyer, Mr Oluwole Afolabi, urged the court to declare Oshiomhole’s continued stay in office illegal having allegedly been suspended from the APC.
The other plaintiffs are Hon. Anselm Ojezua, Alhaji Sani Gomna, Mr Oshawo Steven, Mr Fani Wabulari and Evangelist Princewill Ejogharado.
While other respondents alongside Oshiomhole include the APC, Inspector General of Police (IG) and the State Security Service (SSS).
Arguing the motion with number: M/4292/2020, Afolabi told the court that Oshiomhole has up till now failed to challenge his suspension from the party.
According to the lawyer to the plaintiffs, Oshiomhole’s rights as a member is currently abated and cannot continue to act as chairman of the party, adding that Oshiomhole cannot continue to enjoy benefits from the APC, despite his suspension as a member of the party.
The Ward 10 Executives of the APC had late last year suspended Oshiomhole from the APC. The suspension was ratified by the Etsako West Local Government Executive Committee and was subsequently upheld by the State Executive Committee of the party.
The plaintiffs accordingly prayed the court for an interlocutory order restraining Oshiomhole from parading himself or performing any function as the National Chairman of the APC.
They also prayed the court for another interlocutory order restraining the APC from recognizing or continue to recognize Oshiomhole as the National Chairman of the APC including given effect to any of his decisions.
In addition, they prayed for another interlocutory order directing the police and the SSS to deploy their staff to prevent Oshiomhole from continuing to occupy the office of the National Chairman of the APC and from having access to the office.
Delivering ruling in the interlocutory application, the judge held that the plaintiffs have been able to show that Oshiomhole was suspended by his ward, Etsako West Ward 10 in Edo State.
Justice Senchi added that political parties must be bound by their constitution and having been suspended by his ward, Oshiomhole is restrained from functioning as the National Chairman of the party pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
The court also ordered that Oshiomole should stop parading himself as the chairman of the party.
The judge also urged the APC to desist from acknowledging him as the chairman of the party.
The court has also given the APC orders not to grant Oshiomole access to the party’s secretariat.
Hearing has been fixed for April 7 and 8, 2020.
The APC in Edo State had last year suspended Oshiomhole from the party over his role in the crisis rocking the state chapter of the party.
The decision followed the vote of no confidence passed on him by the Chairmen of the APC in the 18 local government areas (LGAs) of Edo State.
According to a statement signed by Edo APC Chairman, Anselm Ojezua, and Assistant State Secretary, Ikuenobe Anthony, “Consequent on the development, the State Executive Committee has adopted the vote of no confidence passed on him and the subsisting suspension order from the organs of the party in the state.”
According to them, the decision was necessary to prevent a repeat of what happened in Zamfara State, where the party was unable to field any candidate in the 2019 elections.