TAIWO AMODU writes on the pending court cases, even as the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) seeks to explore the internal dispute mechanism of the party to resolve its perennial crises.
Former Lagos State governor and national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu, in his metaphorical allusion to the leadership tussle rocking his party, likened it to a virus. In an open letter on the eve of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting which was eventually aborted, Tinubu claimed that the amorphous party was being fractured by certain chieftains desperate to hijack it ahead of 2023 presidential race.
The embattled national chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has since survived the onslaught and has returned to his seat, courtesy of the judgment of the Federal Court of Appeal, Abuja Division which set aside the earlier order of Justice Danlami Senchi of the High Court, Federal Capital Territory. Oshiomhole has since dropped his belligerent posture for a more conciliatory approach in his relationship with his colleagues in the APC National Working Committee (NWC) and other aggrieved chieftains.
Checks revealed that Oshiomhole has granted reprieve to certain national officers placed on suspension. The list included the APC deputy national chairman (North), Senator Lawan Shuaibu and the national vice chairman (North-West), Inuwa Abdulkadir. The APC chairman further advised chieftains who filed cases in court to withdraw such suits while the party explores its internal dispute mechanism.
He said: «We have also resolved that we are going to withdraw all cases in court that any member of the NEC is involved so that we must lead by example and we have shown that we are capable of managing ourselves and therefore we do not need the minister to help us resolve what we are capable of resolving.»
Ajimobi and the South-West debacle
However, Oshiomhole’s admonition appears to have fallen on deaf ears. Checks revealed that the Ekiti State chapter of the party has remained resilience in its claim to the office of deputy national chairman (South) vacated by former Ekiti State governor and sitting Minister of Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo. While former Oyo State governor, Senator Isiaka Ajimobi, has assumed the position, attended meeting of NWC and was presented to President Muhammadu Buhari by Oshiomhole, Barrister Taiwo Omidoyin, counsel to the aggrieved chieftain, Michael Akinleye, complained to the court presiding over the case challenging Senator Ajimob’si claim to the office, that the APC leadership had gone ahead to nominate and inaugurate Ajimobi to the office.
In the suit number FHC/AD/CS/8/2020, Michael Akinleye is asking the court to halt Ajimobi’s appointment on the premise that the position had been micro-zoned to Ekiti. Joined in the suit are: the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole (first respondent); NWC (second respondent); national vice chairman, South West (third respondent); APC South West Zonal Caucus (fourth respondent); Ekiti State chairman of APC (fifth respondent); Ekiti State Caucus of APC (sixth respondent); All Progressives Congress (seventh respondent) and Senator Abiola Ajimobi (eighth respondent).
At the last hearing on March 23, Justice U.N. Agoumoh warned Oshiomhole against actions that could be subjudice on the appointment of Senator Ajimobi. He said: “The position of this court that the status quo ante bellum be maintained in this case still subsists. I want to warn the lawyers to tell their clients not to do anything that will jeopardize the case in court. I hope your clients have not taken any steps as regard the case at hand. The consequences will be dire for anyone who flouts the order.” The case was subsequently adjourned to April 7 for further hearing.
Issa-Onilu, Nabena drag position of image maker
The deputy national publicity secretary of the party, Yekeen Nabena, has equally insisted that a court order has restrained the substantive national publicity secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, from parading himself as the party spokesman. Nabena in a statement to newsmen noted that Justice Mohammed Mohammed of the High Court, Sokoto Division in a suit instituted by Inuwa Abdulkadir granted an interim order restraining Issa-Onilu. Nabena further claimed that he was taking over the position as the APC acting national publicity secretary with the understanding of Issa- Onilu, pending the time the latter will sort out the court matter.
He said: ‘’APC is a law-abiding party and, as leaders of the party, we must be seen doing the right thing at all time, including respecting the order of the court. In lieu of this, Mallam Issa-Onilu has begun the process of vacating the order of the Sokoto High Court restraining him. But pending the time this will be done, I will act in his position. Unlike the former ruling party, the APC has high regard for the judiciary and we must be seen at all time to practice what we preach.’’
Onilu however dismissed the claim by his deputy. In a short sentence sent to Nigerian Tribune, the substantive national publicity secretary said there was no court judgment restraining him. ‘’There is no any such court judgment restraining me. He [Nabena] is chasing shadow. I’ll speak to it soon.’’
Checks by Nigerian Tribune however confirmed Nabena’s claim. The order by Justice Mohammed of the Sokoto High Court was indeed sequel to a suit instituted by the APC national vice chairman (North-West), Inuwa Abdulkadir. Listed as defendants in the suit were the APC, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as first, second and third defendants, respectively.
Abdulkadir, the plaintiff is seeking «An order of interim injunction, restraining the defendants or any other organ of the first defendant from appointing or electing second defendant or any member of the first defendant in substantive capacity or whatsoever, save and except through a national convention in accordance with the constitution of the first defendant, pending the hearing and determination of motion on notice on SS/ M. 106/ 2020 now pending before this court.
“An order of interim injunction, restraining the defendants or any other organ of the first defendant, except the national convention from appointing, electing or ratifying the appointment of second defendant or any member of the first defendant into the National Executive Committee (NEC), except in compliance with the first defendant’s constitution as well as in accordance with the provisions of Section 233 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice on SS/M. 106/ 2020 now before this court; and for any further orders that the court will deem fit to make in the circumstance.”
In the order sighted by Nigerian Tribune, Justice Mohammed granted the first and second prayers of the plaintiff: “It is hereby ordered, in view of the foregoing, it is my humble opinion that this application has merit and ought to be granted. Accordingly prayers 1 and 2 are hereby granted.”
APC feigns ignorance of court order?
The APC NWC has since feigned ignorance of the order of Justice Mohammed. Its national legal adviser, Babatunde Ogala, in a statement, on Friday, dismissed Nabena’s claim to the office as the substantive national publicity secretary. He said the national secretariat of the party has not been notified of the order of the Sokoto Court, asking Lanre Issa-Onilu to vacate his seat.
“The attention of the legal department of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been drawn to a widely-reported statement on a purported court order restraining the national publicity secretary of our party, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, from performing his duty as our party’s spokesman.
“The party’s legal department has not received the purported court order the media is referring to in their reports. If indeed, there is a court order, the party ought to have been notified. To this effect, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu remains the national publicity secretary of the party. We call on the public, media and members of the party to disregard the statement and its claims.”
As the legal tussles continue to reign supreme in the various camps in the ruling political party, how far can Oshiomhole go in convincing aggrieved chieftains armed with favourable court orders to let go?
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