A Federal High Court has ordered the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Umeh and the Secretary of the party, Alhaji Sani Shinkafi to vacate their offices on the ground that their continued stay in office is beyond the provision of the paryâ€™s constitution.
The judgement followed a suit instituted by a chieftain of the party, Chief Maxi Okwu and factional members of the National Working Committee (NWC) against Umeh, Shinkafi and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), challenging their continued stay in office beyond what the constitution of the party provided for.
Justice Abdul Kafarati in his judgment, specifically made reference to Article 18(2) of the constitution of the party, which provided that any official of the party could only stay in office for a maximum of two terms of four years.
But in a swift reaction, the affected officers have filed a notice of appeal challenging the judgment as well as a motion for stay of execution of the judgment.
In his judgement, Justice Abdul Kafarati held that the plaintiff had a locus standi, going by the affidavit in support of the originating summons to institute the suit as against the objection brought by the defendants challenging the legal interest of Okwu in instituting the suit.
The court further held that every member had a duty to abide by the constitution of the party and that in any instance where the constitution was breached, the court would have jurisdiction to come in.
Justice Kafarati however made a declaration that the 2nd respondent who had been in office for over 10 years could not validly continue in office 10 years after he was first elected.
The court further held that the 1st and 2nd respondents having been voted into office by voice votes rather than secret ballots as stipulated by Article 18(3) of the constitution of APGA were not validly elected.
In the circumstance, the court ordered both Umeh and Shinkafi to vacate their respective offices of national chairman and secretary.
Meanwhile, the sacked secretary, has said the judgement was a fraud and that it would be challenged in a higher court.
Sanni, who was reacting to the judgement, said it was judicial rascality, adding that the Court of Appeal had earlier upheld the election of Umeh as the chairman.
â€œThe judgment of Justice Abdul Kafarati amounts to a judicial rascality because when a superior court of record had given a judgment on the leadership of APGA, the judgment of the Awka High court on this matter as the Court of Appeal Enugu in Division had already nullified the Maxi Okwu convention, APGA was not cited as a party in this suit, the party cannot be judged in its absence. The judge has no jurisdiction to have heard the matter. The non-joinder of APGA in this suit has rendered the suit incompetent, the judgment on the APGA leadership is still pending before the Supreme Court. That is why we are calling for a total overhaul of the nationâ€™s judiciary. The Supreme Court had in many cases, held that the courts lack jurisdiction to dabble into the internal affairs of political parties. We have gone ahead to appeal to the Court of Appeal to challenge the decision of the court. We are going to petition the NJC on this matter. Maxi Okwu is an expelled member of APGA and there was no where he was re-admitted.