By Adedayo Akinwale
Following an order of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High court that renewed an order given in March for the party’s Deputy National Secretary, Chief Victor Giadom, to act as the national chairman of the party after the suspension of Mr. Adams Oshiomhole by an order of the Appeal court, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has insisted that there is no leadership vacuum to fill.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, in a statement issued Friday, said that there was no vacancy to fill on the said March 16, 2020 as the Deputy Chairman (South), Senator Abiola Ajimobi, had already assumed the role of Acting National Chairman.
The party spokesman explained that none of the four defendants named on the said process were served with the originating processes in the suit, adding that as a result, the party became aware of the existence of such an order on June 17, 2020 through its circulation on social media.
Issa-Onilu stated: “The attention of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been drawn to an Exparte Order allegedly granted in favor of Victor Giadom in suit no: FCT/HC/M/6447/2020. A cursory look at the said Order will reveal that it was granted on March 16, 2020 to fill a purportedly vacant office of National Chairman ahead of a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting which turned out to have been convened in contravention of the APC Constitution.
“To begin with, Justice Liman of the Federal High Court had on March 13, 2020, in the case of Hon. Tunde balogun V All Progressives Congress (suit no. FHC/L/CS/414/2020 affirmed the appointment of Sen. Abiola Ajimobi as Acting Deputy National Chairman (South) by the APC National Working Committee (NWC) and directed as follows;
“That an Order of Interim Injunction is granted restraining the defendant either by itself or its servants, agents, privies, assigns, officers or officials or otherwise howsoever from ignoring or refusing to recognize Waziri Bulama as Ag. National Secretary, Senator Abiola Ajimobi as Ag. Deputy National Chairman (South) and Paul Chukwuma as Ag. National Auditor of the Defendant pending the determination of the Motion on Notice for Interlocutory Injunction herein.”
Issa-Onilu stressed that in furtherance of the above and complying with Article 14.2 (iii) of the APC Constitution, Ajimobi assumed the position of acting National Chairman on March 13, 2020, noting that Article 14.2 (iii) provides: “The Deputy National Chairman shall act as National Chairman in the absence of the National Chairman from his zone”.
According to him, In essence, there was no vacancy to fill on the said March 16, 2020 as Sen. Ajimobi had already assumed the role of Acting National Chairman. More instructively, the said Order by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory was also made after the Court of Appeal had already granted an Interim Stay of Execution of the Order of the High Court suspending the National Chairman. In Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole & Anor V Comrade Mustapha Saliu & ors (CA/A/187/2020) the Court of Appeal held thus.
Issa-Onilu said that an order of stay of execution of the ruling of the FCT High court in suit No: FCT/HC/CV/837/2020 delivered on 4th March, 2020 was granted pending the determination of the motion on notice which is now slated for hearing on 20th of March, 2020
He stressed further that an order of injunction was granted restraining the respondents themselves, their agents, privies and/or officers jointly or severally from proceeding to take any further steps to give effect to the said ruling
The party noted that the Court of Appeal is a higher Court in the hierarchy of Courts and without prejudice to Ajimobi’s role as Acting National Chairman, by its decision and the operation of law, there was indeed no vacancy to fill necessitating the said Order.
He explained further that it was the same exparte order of March 16, 2020 granted in the face of the pending orders of both the Federal High Court and Court of Appeal that is being alleged by Giadom to be extended by the FCT High Court.
Issa-Onilu added that the said exparte order was granted pursuant to the High Court of the FCT Civil Procedure Rules 2018. Order 43 Rules 3(2) and (3) of thereof provides:
“(2) An Order of Injunction made upon an application ex-parte shall abate after 7 days”.
(3) The court may upon application extend the effective period of an ex-parte if he satisfied that the motion on notice has been served and that such extension is necessary in the interest of justice or to prevent an irreparable or serious mischief. The application for such an extension shall be made before abatement of the order and the extension shall not be for a period exceeding seven (7) days from the day the extension is granted”.
The party spokesman said: “The above provision clearly indicates that the said Exparte Order granted on March 16, 2020 expired on March 23, 2020. We have no information that it was ever extended and even if that was the case, the said extension would have expired on March 30, 2020. In other words, his current claim to the Chairmanship of the APC is not founded on any law but instead on impunity.
“It is necessary to also restate that the said Order was specifically targeted at the purported National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting scheduled for March 17, 2020. It is on record that the said meeting was convened in violation of Article 25(B) of the APC Constitution and as a result it was never held on the fixed date. Once the specific event targeted by the Order had passed, there is no premise upon which to insist on the pendency of such an Order.
“We assure our teeming members that the APC has no leadership vacuum. By the Constitution of the Party, Sen. Ajimobi has assumed the role of National Chairman following the decision of the Court of Appeal upholding the interlocutory injunction suspending the National Chairman from office. A majority of members of the NWC are determined to preserve our Party’s zero tolerance for impunity and will continue to uphold the law in fulfillment of the mandate given to us by members of our great Party.”