Godwin Tsa, Abuja
An Abuja High Court on Friday upheld the suspension of Omoyele Sowore as the National Chairman of African Action Congress (AAC) party along with Malcolm Fabiyi as the Deputy National Chairman.
The party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) had suspended Sowore and Fabiyi for six months at its meeting held on March 27, 2019. Sowore, the publisher of online news medium, Saharareporters, and the party’s presidential candidate at the February 23, 2019 election, was suspended along with Fabiyi and others for allegedly engaging in anti-party activities. Justice Inyang Ekwo in his judgment affirmed the appointment of Dr Leonard Nzewa as the Acting National Chairman of the party. Nzewa who filed the action had prayed the court to validate the decision of the party’s NEC to suspend Sowore and Fabiyi for six months at its meeting held on March 27, 2019.
The court granted the declaratory orders sought by the plaintiff in the suit. Justice Ekwo dismissed Sowore and Fabiyi’s objection to the suit on the grounds that they failed to personally depose to the counter-affidavit filed against the suit.
The judge ruled: “It is my opinion that Dr John Adeoye is not a party in this case and cannot give evidence. I find that the evidence of Dr John Adeoye goes to nought.” Noting that it was an elementary principle of law that only a party to a case could depose to affidavit evidence in defence of his or her case, the judge ruled as untenable the reasons given by Sowore and his deputy for their inability to depose to the affidavit evidence.
According to Adeoye, who deposed to the counter-affidavit, both Sowore and Fabiyi were unable to personally depose to the counter-affidavit because they were outside the country when the suit was filed. The judge, however, ruled that the reasons given by the defendants showed that they did not take the case seriously.
“Anybody who does not take a suit instituted against him seriously must prepare to bear the brunt of his carelessness,” the judge ruled. The judge also noted that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not file any defence to the case.
“I find that the evidence of the plaintiff has not been challenged or controverted, I thereby ascribe probative value to it,” the judge ruled. He added, “On the whole, the case ought to succeed and I so hold” and then went on to grant all the prayers in the originating summons.
Reacting to Saturday Sun inquiry, Sowore said: “We’ve commenced the process of appeal already. The judgment won’t stand.”