Fresh Suit Challenges Legitimacy of APC Caretakers

  • Appeal Court to hear Amaechi group’s request on July 16

Davidson Iriekpen in Lagos and Alex Enumah in Abuja

Despite the appeal by the National Caretaker Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the National Executive Committee (NEC) to all aggrieved members to withdraw their cases from the courts, a member of the party in Lagos State has filed a suit against the party at the Federal High Court in Lagos, seeking the sack of the caretaker committee.

This is coming as the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal Wednesday fixed July 16 for hearing in the appeal brought by members of the party in Rivers State loyal to the Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi.

The APC member, Chief Lateef Arigbaruwo, in the suit number FHC/L/CS/789/2020 is faulting the NEC meeting of the party held on June 25.

The suit has the APC, Mr. Victor Giadom, NEC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as first to fourth respondents respectively.

Arigbaruwo, who claims to be a chieftain of the APC in Ojo Local Government Area in Lagos State is asking the court to declare whether having regards to Article 25, paragraph B (i) and (ii) of the Constitution of the party, the 24 hours’ notice given by the 2nd defendant for the NEC meeting held on June 25 was valid and legal.

The suit, which was filed on July 1 on behalf of the plaintiff by Mr. Dimien Edonkumoh, is also seeking “an order of the court setting aside all the decisions taken in the NEC meeting, which he declared illegal on the grounds that it was conveyed in the June 24 and held on June 25, contrary to Article 25 of the APC Constitution.”

The plaintiff asked the court to restrain the caretaker committee members from parading themselves as such.

He wants the court to grant an order allowing the APC National Vice Chairman (South-south), Mr. Hilliard Eta, to pilot the affairs of the APC as acting national chairman and to preside at all meetings of the National Working Committee and NEC.
THISDAY gathered that when the case came up on Tuesday, Justice Mohammed Liman, to whom the suit was assigned, declined to hear the matter, insisting the matter be heard at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) where the defendants reside.
He then transferred the case file to the Chief Judge of the court in Abuja for re-assignment.

Appeal Court to Hear Amaechi Group’s Request on July 16

The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, yesterday fixed July 16 for hearing in the appeal brought by the members of the party in Rivers State loyal to Amaechi.

A three-man panel of the appellate court, led by Justice Stephen Ada, announced the date for hearing in the substantive suit after the court dismissed the preliminary objection raised by the Acting Chairman of APC in Rivers State, Mr. Igo Aguma, who is of Senator Magnus Abe’s group.

The sacked Chairman of the party’s Caretaker Committee, Mr. Isaac Ogbobula, who is a loyalist of Amaechi, had approached the Court of Appeal to challenge the judgment of the Rivers State High Court that sacked his committee and affirmed Aguma as the acting chairman of the APC in the state.

Aguma, APC and former National Chairman of the APC, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, are the first, second and third respondents.
Justice George Omereji of a Rivers State High Court had on June 9 declared Aguma as the acting chairman of the party in the state.

The court also compelled the party to allow all members of the party loyal to Abe to participate in the new congresses.
The court voided the caretaker committee appointed by the now-dissolved NWC of the party in 2018.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, Ogbobula went to the appellate court, praying the court to set aside Justice Omereji’s judgment and restore him as the chairman in the state.

When the matter came up yesterday, counsel to Aguma, Mr. Emeka Etiaba (SAN), raised a preliminary objection, arguing that the appellant did not comply with the rule of the court in compiling and transmitting records to the Appeal Court.
He said it was near impossible for a court to have delivered a judgment on Thursday and the record filed and transmitted to the Court of Appeal in Abuja the following day.

He held further that the Appeal Court cannot depart from its own rule to give vent to non-proper filing and regularisation of application, especially when it was not yet time to file.

He said the appellant put “the horse before the cart” in transmitting records to Appeal Court in that as at when the application was filed, the records had not been properly compiled.

Etiaba also raised the issue of non-proper service on one of the respondents.

But the appellant’s counsel, Mr. Tuduru Ede (SAN), said the court could set aside and depart from its own rules when the need arises to regularise a process.

Tuduru held that the court has the power to deem an application properly filed and start running from the time. “I hold this honourable court has the power to grant prayers we are seeking,” Tuduru added.

In a short ruling, the Court of Appeal dismissed the objection on the grounds that the argument of the first respondent was misconceived and, therefore, liable to dismissal.

Justice Ada held further that the appellant’s application complied with the rule of the Appeal Court, adding that the application for preliminary objection “was a complete waste of court’s time and abuse of court process.”
The panel further said that Etiaba’s objection was a disgraceful act that ought not to be at the Court of Appeal.