There was confusion on Thursday as two courts of equal jurisdiction, in a space of 24 hours, gave contradictory orders on the embattled National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole.
Justice A. Lewis-Allagoa, sitting at the Federal High Court in Kano on Thursday, voided the suspension of Adam Oshiomhole as a member of the APC.
He also held that the Independent National Electoral Commission should not recognise anybody, except Oshiomhole, as the APC national chairman.
Justice Lewis-Allagoa’s ruling came a day after Justice Danlami Senchi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Jabi, made an order suspending Oshiomhole as the national chairman of the APC.
Justice Senchi had premised his order suspending Oshiomhole as the APC national chairman on the November 2, 2019 resolution of the Ward 10, Etsako West Local Government Area.
Justice Senchi held that Oshiomhole could not continue to function as the APC national chairman when he had been suspended by his ward.
The Abuja judge ordered Oshiomhole to stop parading himself as the APC national chairman, and ordered the APC to deny him access to the party national secretariat
But on Thursday, Justice Lewis-Allagoa held that the November 2, 2019 “purported resolution of the Ward 10, Etsako West Local Government Area, Edo State APC,” suspending Oshiomhole as a member of the APC was of no effect.
The judge, who ordered that the status quo ante bellum should be maintained, directed all parties to the suit before him on the subject, not to give any effect whatsoever to the “purported resolution” suspending Oshiomhole as a member of the APC.
He made an interim order, directing the APC; the INEC; the Inspector-General of Police; and the Director General, State Security Service “either by themselves, servants, privies, assigns or any other officer, howsoever described and by whatever name called, from giving effect to the purported resolution of Ward 10, Etsako West Local Government Area of 2nd November 2019 suspending the 2nd defendant (Oshiomhole) as a member of the 1st defendant (APC) pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”
The judge also restrained INEC from “dealing, communicating or howsoever recognising any person other than the 2nd defendant (Oshiomhole) as the national chairman of the 1st defendant (APC) for any party business or carrying out any duties in the commission by the Electoral Act.”
The ex parte application leading to Justice Lewis-Allagoa’s orders was filed by one Aliyu Muhammad Rabiu.
The judge adjourned till April 8 to hear the motion on notice filed by Rabiu.
The two court orders worsened the crisis in the APC on Thursday. The embattled national chairman’s supporters flaunted the order of the court in Kano at the party’s national secretariat.
A statement by Oshiomhole’s media aide, Mr Simon Ebegbulem, read, “A Federal High Court Kano, set aside the ruling of the FCT High Court upholding the suspension of the APC National Chair, Oshiomhole from the party. Order police, DSS to provide security to the National Chair to resume office.”
Oshiomhole had invited journalists to his private office for a press conference on Thursday, but changed his mind when reporters arrived at the venue.
He said he was on his way to the Presidential Villa, stating, “Someone will speak to you, but if you are here by the time I return I will speak to you.” He went into his waiting vehicle and left.
His media aide and other associates, gave copies of the Kano Federal High Court injunction to journalists, saying a press conference might be held on Friday.
However, the court process had not been served the party as of the time of filing this report (6:00pm).
In response to the new development, the party’s National Vice- Chairman (North-East), Salihu Mustapha, described the injunction obtained by the national chairman as a nullity.
Mustapha said, “I want to tell you from my little knowledge of the law, that two courts of coordinate jurisdiction cannot seat on appeal on an order or judgment given by each other. A Federal High Court cannot seat on appeal on FCT High Court.
“The only court that has the jurisdiction to seat an appeal is the court of appeal in this case and the court order of the FCT high court was served yesterday (Wednesday), most of you have copies of the order and it is an elementary law that first in time prevails.
“That of Abuja high court came earlier and we seek for interlocutory injunction and there is affidavit of urgency which seeks to prevail certain kinds of mischief which we prayed that the court should help prevail which they did so.
“If you look at the main reason why that introductory letter is granted, I don’t think that a Federal High Court of the same jurisdiction will now come and set it aside. We don’t need the knowledge of a lawyer to know that a high court cannot seat on a matter of appeal in high court.”
He explained that party officials were going about their normal activities and that preparations were going on to convene a National Working Committee meeting to prepare for the National Executive Committee meeting.
Asked if activities of the party were adversely affected by the development, he said, “As you can see, we are in the secretariat and we are running the affairs of the party.
“So, the suspension (of Oshiomhole) still prevails until the hearing of the matter or if there is any contrary order from the court of appeal.”
He also reacted to the appointment of former Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, as the party’s Deputy National Chairman (South), as well as other officers chosen by the Oshiomhole-led NWC.
Mustapha said, “That’s laughable because that one is what amuses me most and it is very pathetic and disturbing because we saw an announcement that purported that we approved nominations of three officers on the 14th of January. One of these officers who is the deputy chairman south, even the nomination from his state came to the national vice chairman on the 28 of February, almost 40 days after the date of the purported meeting.
“The meeting we had on the 14th January, I came out of the meeting and I told you guys that the meeting was stopped because they were trying to do illegality on only national secretary, the matter of the other people was referred to the zone, nobody discussed it.”
He further noted that the party’s lawyers were studying the document and would not hesitate to enter criminal proceedings against Oshiomhole and all those behind the issuance of the statement.
On plans to convene a meeting of the NWC, he said, “We will be meeting very soon, maybe within a week so that we can call for a NEC meeting.”
Meanwhile, the police have maintained their presence on the party’s national secretariat to forestall a breakdown of law and order.
When one of our correspondents visited the secretariat, a police water cannon and six patrol vans from the Maitama Police Division, were seen parked at the major entry and exit points on Blantyre Street, as well as the main entrance of the party secretariat.
Shortly after meeting the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), on Thursday, Oshiomhole went spiritual as he rained curses on those he believed were behind his current ordeal.
He said God, who listened to his prayers, would bring out whatever his enemies planned against him in darkness and destroy it in daylight.
The former governor of Edo State also accused “some governors and a particular minister” of teaming with some forces in the APC to rubbish his achievements.
He fingered Governor Godwin Obasaki of his state, whom he described as “a son I gave birth to”, as one of the governors. But, he didn’t name the others and the said minister.
He stated, “Let me also say that those behind this plot, the hands you saw, which include as you saw yesterday (Wednesday), the Edo state governor and his people jubilating.
“But, that is the irony of life; that you will help give birth to a child and the child looks for a cutlass to want to chop off your neck. It has happened in history; it has happened in this country so I won’t be only person.
“But, there are other forces who see me for whatever reason as a threat to them. And those leading this anti-Oshiomhole campaign, some of them I emphasise, cannot even boost of a councillor in their state even as they lay claim to leadership position in our party.”
Oshiomhole had rushed to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, for a meeting with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), soon after Justice Lewis Allagoa set aside an earlier ruling of the FCT Court suspending him as the APC’s chairman.
He had also visited Buhari on Tuesday, just 24 hours before the FCT High Court granted the interlocutory prayers to suspend him on Wednesday.
Incidentally, shortly before Oshiomhole rushed in on Thursday to see Buhari, the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Dr Kayode Fayemi; Chairman Progressives Governors Forum, Mr Abubakar Atiku-Bagudu; and the Governor of Jigawa State, Muhammad Badaru, had met with the President.
Fayemi and Atiku-Bagudu are the governors of Ekiti and Kebbi states respectively. It was unclear what the agenda of their visit ahead of Oshiomhole’s was, and they did not speak with reporters.
Speaking with State House Correspondents after Thursday’s meeting, Oshiomhole said he came to brief Buhari, being the leader of the party, of all the happenings in the APC lately.
He claimed that Buhari approved all the decisions of the party before he could implement them as the chairman.
When asked whether Buhari supported him to remain in office as chairman, Oshiomhole replied that the best way was to find out from the President himself, so that those in doubt could clear their doubts.
But, to his perceived traducers, he invited God’s wrath on them, saying, “Those who are parading themselves, holding meetings at night, my prayer to my God is that let them meet at night, what they do at night will be destroyed by light in the day time.
“I don’t go for night business, I do day business. They know themselves, they know me and I know them.”
Oshiomhole said his lawyers went to court to halt the suspension because the FCT High Court had no jurisdiction over the matter.
Besides, he argued that the alleged suspension was uncalled for because he was not an executive member of the party in his ward. Oshiomhole noted that as a national chairman, it was unthinkable that nine party members would sit to suspend him.
He further expressed surprise that the FCT court also took the prayers and granted the injunction against him.
When asked why he was facing opposition from some forces in the APC, Oshiomhole replied that a major problem in Nigeria was that people preferred to have weak institutions.
He noted that anyone who tried to bring change or alter the pattern they were used to, usually faced opposition, no matter the achievements recorded.
Oshiomhole recalled that the party won many elections under him and went through trying times in states such as Kogi and Bayelsa, adding that some “mistakes” were unavoidable.
He stated, “But, you see, whatever you do, those who want to fight you will fight you. But, I know that my tenure will be defined by God, not by man. And I worry more about what I will be remembered for when I was chairman rather than how long I was chairman.
“I am convinced that I have done my very best; mistakes would have been made and I want to see the one person who will say he has never made mistakes.
“But if there are mistakes of the head we have the capacity to correct mistakes of the head.”
The APC spokesman, Issa-Onilu, had in a statement on Wednesday said the party’s NWC had chosen four national officers, including Ajimobi.
He stated that the decision was reached at the party’s National Working Committee meeting on January 14.
Also, the APC in Ekiti State rejected the nomination of former Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, by the party’s National Working Committee as the deputy national chairman (South) of the party.
The APC State Publicity Secretary, Ade Ajayi, in a statement on Thursday in Ado Ekiti insisted that the nominee for the position from Ekiti State remained Senator Gbenga Aluko.
He said the nomination by the NWC did not follow due process as such was the responsibility of the National Executive Council.
Ajayi stated, “When you consider the whole issues, it is clear that the position of Deputy National Chairman South of APC is still vacant and whatever nomination and announcement that may have been made is nothing more than a nullity and exercise in futility.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, described the conflicting orders as worrisome, saying the developing was exposing the judiciary to ridicule.
He said, “The speed at which the ex parte orders of injunction are granted in political cases is very disturbing indeed. However, bulk of the blame rests on politicians and their lawyers who file these frivolous cases, knowing that a case is pending before a court in Abuja only to rush to Kano to file the same case on the same subject.