Court Affirms Ganduje’s Suspension As Embattled Chairman Fights Back

•Party kicks, petitions NJC, seeks review 

•Says order procured via fraudulent document

•Ganduje: Their motive is to create confusion in our party, says it’s a destructive phenomenon

Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Ahmad Sorondinki in Kano

History repeated itself yesterday in the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) as the Kano State High Court granted an ex parte order restraining the party’s national chairman, Abdullahi Ganduje, from parading himself as a member of the party.

Subsequently, the court ordered Ganduje to desist from presiding over all affairs of the APC National Working Committee (NWC).

The same fate befell former national chairman of APC, now senator, Adams Oshiomhole, in 2020, and now history repeats itself with Ganduje’s ouster.

But the national secretariat of the party kicked against the latest development, and immediately petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC). APC demanded a review of the court order issued by Justice Usman Na’abba against Ganduje.

The party also said it would not obey any court order obtained by “fraudulent document” affirming the suspension of its national chairman.

Ganduje in his reaction to the court order suspending him from his position,  accused the New Nigeria Peoples Party NNPP led Kano State Government of being jittery over the rising electoral profile of President Bola Tinubu in the state. “They are so concerned that we are battle ready to take over the government come 2027. They are so concerned that we got the second highest votes for Mr President and that we will get even higher in order to ensure that 2027 is a walk over”, he told his support group who paid him solidarity visit hours after the court order.

He stated further that, “Their motive is to create confusion in our party so that we won’t have the courage and mind to take over the government of Kano and to also ensure that our president does not have intimidating votes from Kano State. Their intentions will fail.

“We want to assure Mr President that our party in Kano State is intact. It is solid. It is battle ready in order to give the highest votes to Mr President”.

Ganduje who described the development as a new “destructive phenomenon”, said the APC leadership would ensure that the impersonators are punished.

“We have heard your complaints which is that you have dissociated yourself from the charade and you are appealing to us to take appropriate legal action according to the rule of law.

“This is a new destructive phenomenon in democracy which should not be allowed to thrive, if elements of another political party could sit down and claim that they are executive members of another political party. I think this should be checked even by security agencies”, he said

“After a fair and critical investigation, it was found that those who met with officials of Kano state government are not executive members of either the ward or local government and they are not even members of our political party.

“I have to appreciate you for showing your concern. In fact, what is happening is an incursion into our political party by the NNPP and the government of Kano State in order to destroy our party because they have seen their failures in their first year in office in terms of the economy and political unrest in the state.

In another development, Na’abba fixed April 29, 2024 for hearing on whether respondents in the case between the Kano State government and Ganduje could be served by substituted means. The decision botched hearing in the trial.

APC is going down the same path as four years ago, when Oshiomhole was removed through the court, after a long-drawn battle of survival.

On June 16, 2020, a three-man panel of the Court of Appeal affirmed the suspension of Oshiomhole as national chairman of APC.

In the judgment delivered by Mohammed Lamido, the panel dismissed Oshiomhole’s appeal for lacking merit.

The panel’s decision followed the judgement of an Abuja high court in March 2020, which had ordered the suspension of Oshiomhole as national chairman of APC.

A high court sitting in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had on March 5, 2020 given an order of interlocutory injunction restraining Oshiomhole from referring to himself as APC national chairman, pending the determination of a suit filed by one Oluwale Afolabi.

Less than two weeks later, on March 16, the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja restrained APC from executing the judgement of the FCT high court, which ordered Oshiomhole’s suspension as national chairman of the party.

In its ruling at the time, Abubakar Yahaya, chairman of the three-man panel of judges, ordered a stay of execution pending the hearing of an application filed by Oshiomhole.

In his appeal, Oshiomhole, through his counsel, Wole Olanipekun, had asked the court to set aside the suspension order.

The appeal court’s ruling came at a time Oshiomhole faced serious backlash over the decision by the NWC to suspend the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, then a member of APC, and bar him from contesting the party’s governorship primary election.

Obaseki later announced his decision to quit APC. His now estranged and impeached deputy, Philip Shaibu, also left the party after his principal’s announcement of his exit.

However, yesterday, the application granted by Na’abba followed an ex parte motion by Dr. Ibrahim Sa’ad Esq. on behalf of two executive members of APC Ganduje ward, Dawakin-Tofa Local Government Area of Kano State.

They were the assistant secretary, Laminu Sani, and the legal adviser, Haladu Gwanjo (plaintiffs), who were part of the nine ward executive members, who suspended Ganduje two days earlier.

The court directed the four parties (respondents) joined in the matter, including APC, APC National Working Committee (NWC), APC Kano State Working Committee (KSWC), and Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, to henceforth, maintain status quo ante belum as from April 15, 2024, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit on April 30, 2024.

Na’abba, also as prayed, stopped KSWC from interfering with the legally and validly considered decision of executives of Ganduje ward, essentially on action endorsed by two-thirds majority of the executives as provided for by the party’s constitution.

The court ruled, “An order is hereby granted directing all parties in the suit APC (1st), APC National Working Committee (2nd), Kano State Working Committee APC (3rd), Dr. Abdullah Umar Ganduje (4th), to maintain status quo ante belum as of 15th April, 2024.

“The order thereby restraining the 1st respondent (APC) from recognising the 4th respondent (Ganduje) as member of APC and prohibiting the 4th respondent (Ganduje) from presiding over any affairs of the NWC and restraining the State Working Committee from interfering with the legally and validly decision of the ward executives of Ganduje ward.

“That the 4th respondent (Ganduje) is prohibited from parading himself as member of APC or doing any act that may portray him or seem to be a member of APC pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”

But APC, in a petition dated April 17, 2024 and signed by the chairman of Ganduje’s ward, Mahmud Ganduje and 26 others, asked the NJC to evaluate the adherence with judicial guidelines and the constitution in the context of non-interference and political party affairs.

It said, “We, the Executive Committee members of Ganduje Ward, Dawakin-Tofa Local Government Area of Kano State, write to formally bring to your attention and seek intervention concerning the actions of Hon. Justice Usman Mallam Na‘abba, presiding over Court 4 of the High Court of Kano State, in a ruling involving our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“Hon. Justice Usman Mallam Na‘abba granted an Ex-parte Order suspending H.E. Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje as a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and further restrained him from performing his role as the National Chairman.”

The ruling party said the court’s decision was issued on April 17, 2024, following an ex-parte motion filed by Dr Ibrahim Sa’ad on behalf of two executive members of the APC, Ganduje Ward.

APC explained that the core of its petition revolved around the principle that the judiciary should not interfere in the internal affairs of a political party without clear evidence that the party’s internal mechanisms, as outlined in its constitution, have been exhausted.

It explained that the APC constitution provided specific procedures for handling disputes and disciplinary actions within the party, adding that Article 24.1(i) clearly provides for the right to fair hearing in relation to discipline of members of the party.

The party pointed out that the complaint of the aggrieved members was never served on Ganduje and no invitation was extended to him to attend the purported disciplinary proceedings against him.

APC said the unilateral judicial intervention by Na’abba pre-empted those internal processes and mechanisms, potentially overstepping judicial boundaries.

APC was of the opinion that the judge granted the ex-parte application, “Without recourse to the fact that we had earlier issued a joint press release, which was widely published in both print and electronic media, wherein the party had completely disassociated itself from the alleged suspension of Ganduje and further stated that the perpetrators of the alleged suspension were done by non APC members in the ward.

“The alleged suspension was, therefore, invalid and of no effects whatever having been issued by persons who impersonated members of our Ward Executive Committees and we wish to reiterate that these persons are non-card-carrying members of our party.”

The party stressed that the issuance of an ex-parte order in a politically sensitive matter involving the leadership of a political party without ensuring that all internal remedies had been exhausted, raised concern about the proper judicial process.

It stated that the decision to intervene in internal party affairs without clear and compelling reasons to circumvent the party’s own mechanisms appeared to constitute judicial overreach.

APC insisted, “This action sets a concerning precedent regarding the impartiality and scope of judicial intervention in political party governance.

“In light of the above concerns, we respectfully request the National Judicial Council to: conduct a thorough review of the circumstances and justification behind the decision of Hon. Justice Usman Mallam Na’abba to issue such orders ‘against H.E. Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and the APC’.

“Evaluate the adherence with judicial guidelines and the Nigerian Constitution in the context of non-interference and political party affairs.

“Assess potential disciplinary measures if it is found that Hon. Justice Usman Mallam Na‘abba acted beyond his jurisdiction or displayed conduct unbecoming of a judicial officer.

“This petition is submitted in the interest of upholding the integrity of the judiciary and ensuring that political party rights are not unduly infringed upon by premature judicial intervention.”

Earlier, the national leadership of the party had responded, saying it would not obey any court order obtained by “fraudulent document”.

Addressing newsmen at the APC national secretariat in Abuja, National Legal Adviser of the party, Professor Abdulkarim Kana, maintained that the court order was a nullity.

Kana stated, “You all have participated in the meeting they just concluded — the visit of the Kano State chapter of the party and that of the local government, that’s Dawaki Tofa and the Ganduje Ward.

“These are persons who ordinarily will be involved in some of the issues that are going around. And we all got the information the same way you got it, mostly from your own media that certain persons had suspended the national chairman.”

Kana said the party immediately filed a complaint with the police to investigate the individuals, who were behind the suspension, particularly the local government and ward executives.

He further explained that both the ward and local government executives had dissociated themselves from the action and also condemned it.

The legal adviser stated, “We don’t know where all this is coming from, our preliminary investigation shows that there is a fraud. A typical 419 situation here.

“And, unfortunately, they’ve also gone too far by tacking the fraudulent documents circulated to all of you. We’re also hearing this afternoon that they use the same for the document to go to court to obtain an order of the court. We haven’t seen the order, but we have heard about it.

“Whatever order that will emanate from such a document, and all of us know, even a 100 level law student will tell you that an order obtained by fraud is an unlawful order. It will not be enforceable, and it will not be recognised and it will not be respected.”

Kana insisted that the individuals who were behind the order were not APC members.

Asked if the party would seek another court order, when served the Kano high court judgement, Kana stated, “If it is an order obtained by fraud, any lawyer will tell you any order obtain by fraud is a nullity ab initio

“We have not been served with court summons, no one is going to court yet. If a judge decides on his own to listen to one side without hearing the other, or without inviting the parties who are mentioned in the process to make an order and then follow the order of the threats.

“You know that the Judge was interested in the case. And, of course, you know what it is, it means that the judge has been compromised.”

Twenty-seven party leaders in Ganduje ward in Dawakin Tofa council had stormed the state headquarters of APC and dissociated themselves from the purported suspension of Ganduje.

The ward chairman, Ahmad Muhammad Ganduje, further dismissed the claim, and said it was concocted and impersonated. He stated this at an emergency press briefing at the party’s headquarters in Kano, Monday evening.

He exonerated themselves from the claim and also declared that they had identified the culprits and were going to take legal action against them for impersonation and defamation of character.

Ganduje Graft Trial Botched over Improper Service of Court Order

Justice Usman Na’abba of the Kano State High Court fixed April 29, 2024 for hearing on whether respondents in the case between Kano State Government and National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Ganduje, could be served by substituted means.

Ganduje, a former governor of Kano State, alongside his wife, Hafsat, and his son, Umar Ganduje, were absent in court, due to improper service of court order on him and the seven others.

Counsel to the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission, Y. A. Adamu, told the court that they could not serve the respondents personally, but prayed the court to allow respondents be served through substituted means.

But counsel to the sixth respondent (Lamash Properties), Nuraini Jimoh, argued that the law insisted that in a criminal case, the respondent involved must be served personally.

Jimoh explained that even his client had not been served personally, and argued that all the respondents needed to be served personally, as the case was not a civil case but a criminal one.

Counsel to the anti-corruption commission argued that they had the legal backing to serve the respondents through substituted ex parte.

Na’abba adjourned the case to April 29 for hearing.

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