The long-standing leadership dispute within the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) has reached a resolution as the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory ruled in favor of Mr. Edozie Njoku on Tuesday. The court’s decision orders the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to officially recognize Mr. Njoku as the authentic Chairman of the party, effectively bringing an end to the tussle with Mr. Victor Oye.
Njoku and Oye have been on each other’s nerves on who is the authentic Chairman of the party.
However presiding over the court in Abuja, Justice Mohammed Madugu said the full recognition should be with immediate effect.
He gave the other while delivering judgement on a suit filed against Chief Victor Oye and the INEC by Otunba Camaru Lateef Ogidan (the National Vice Chairman, South West Geopolitical Zone of APGA) and Alhaji Rabiu Mustapha (the National Welfare Officer of APGA), two APGA National Working Committee members under the leadership of Chief Edozie Njoku.
The judge held that all the actions, decisions, meetings, etc taken by Chief Oye were “illegal, null, and void, and of no effect whatsoever”.
The Court ordered Oye and INEC, two respondents in the suit, to obey the judgement of the Supreme Court delivered on October 14, 2021, and was subsequently corrected on March 24, 2023, with the name of Edozie Njoku as Chairman.
The trial judge held that INEC must comply with the order of the apex court, adding that Oye had no locus standi to parade as Chairman of APGA.
Before Tuesday’s judgement, the court had on May 10, restrained Oye from holding any form of meeting, gathering, state, national congresses, or convention pending the determination of the suit.
But the interlocutory order was flouted by Oye, as he went ahead to conduct APGA’s convention on May 31.
By the originating summons, the Plaintiffs told the court that the Supreme Court had on 14th October, 2021, given Judgment, which judgment was further corrected on the 24th March, 2023 in their favour as the members of the National Executive Committee elected at the National Convention of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) held on 31st May, 2019 at Owerri, Imo State, which same judgment affirmed Chief Edozie Njoku, as the valid, authentic and substantive National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
The Supreme Court had made it clear that the removal of Chief Edozie Njoku as the National Chairman of APGA was illegal and unconstitutional, adding that subsequent suit to validate his removal was unjustifiable.
The court noted that by the Constitution of APGA, the Plaintiffs and all other Members of the National Executive Committee elected at the 31st May, 2019 Convention are entitled to a four year tenure from when they were elected and only the National Executive Committee led by Chief Edozie Njoku and no other person(s) have the powers and authority to call and give Notices of any National Executive Committee meeting, congress and convention of any kind or form, and that the 2nd Respondent (INEC) is bound to accept and recognize only decisions of the National Executive Committee led by Chief Edozie Njoku as the National Chairman of APGA and recognize and accept only candidates emanating from the primary elections conducted by the Plaintiffs’ National Executive Committee led by Chief Edozie Njoku for any elections into any office for the 2023 general elections.
In addition, it was the reasoning of the court that the Respondents are obligated in law to ensure that the judgment of the Supreme Court made on 14th October, 2021 and further corrected on the 24th of March, 2023 and every Order of the Court are obeyed and complied with.
Earlier in his judgment, Justice Madugu held that in determining the cause of action, the day the oath of office was taken must be ascertained.
The court observed that the tenure of office of the Plaintiffs still subsists and ends on June 7, 2023, having taken oath of office and allegiance on June 7, 2019, for a period of 4 years.
More so, contrary to the submissions of Oye’s lawyer, the Court said the instant suitcase does not constitute an abuse of court process, but was only filed to give effect to the judgement of the Supreme Court delivered on March 24, 2023.
The court had earlier dismissed the preliminary objection raised by the Oye, insisting that it has jurisdiction to hear the case of the Plaintiffs.