Tony John, Port Harcourt
A Rivers State High Court, presided over by Justice Chiwendu Nwogu, has nullified the congresses of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the State, held on the May 19, 20 and 21, for disobedience of court order
The trial judge, Justice C Nworgu, also ruled that parties should maintain status quo before May 11, pending the determination of the originating summon brought before it by some aggrieved members of APC in Rivers state over the conduct of the party’s primaries.
The members, who were aggrieved following the conduct of the ward congress of the party in the state on May 5, had approached the court for redress.
The court had issued an Interlocutory Injunction stopping the party from using the outcome of the congress on May 5 to hold the Local Government congress of the party on May 12, and adjourned till May 29.
The party in the state had, on May 12, conducted the congress, stating that it has not received any judicial notice stopping it from going on with the congress. It also claimed that the congress was a process that has long begun.
However, the national leadership of the APC had on May 18, announced the cancellation of the ward and local government congresses conducted in the state on the earlier dates.
A letter purportedly released and signed by the National Chairman of the party, John Odigie-Oyegun, directed that the three congresses should hold the three successive dates, May 19, 20 and 21, being Saturday, Sunday and Monday respectively.
Following the directive of the national leadership of the party, the state APC held the congresses in which Ojukaye Flag Amachree was elected through consensus as the new Chairman of the party in the state.
When court resumed on the matter yesterday, Barr. Henry Bello, counsel for the aggrieved members of APC, had told the court that he was duly served the motion on notice, adding that there was nothing to show that the person who served him is not counsel for the party.
But, Tuduru Edeh, who told the court that he has the mandate of the APC to represent them in court, insisted that Barr. Chieme Chiweikpe who has been standing for the political party was at his own stance, wondering why
Chiweikpe who claims to be for APC would have affidavit in support of all the prayers of the aggrieved members of the party.
Edeh told the court that Chikweikpe has been suspended by the APC since last year, stressing that he did not have the mandate of the party to stand for them.
Edeh also told the court that the defence has not being served. He also told the court that appeal has been entered on the matter, urging the court to step down the matter till the appeal is heard.
After their submissions, Justice Nwogu said that there was no evidence to prove that appeal has been entered, adding that even the court registrar could not also confirm the development.
Nwogu in his ruling, mentioned that the cancellation of the result of the APC congress held in the state on May 5 and that of May 12 and rescheduling the same congresses for May 19, 20, was to make the matter academic.
He ruled that it was wrong for the APC to go against the order of the court, noting that the political party had earlier attempted to lock the gate of the court in order to stifle justice.
He stated that the attitude of the APC holding the same congresses barred by the court on a later date was contempt, stressing that it was targetted at arm-twisting the judiciary.
Nwogu described the congresses of the APC in the state in the face of the order as an act of disobedience, noting that the conducts of the Tuduru Edeh, who had come to take over the matter as unprofessional.
The trial judge said he was satisfied with the reports of the court which showed that the parties in the matter have been served duly, noting that no record could prove that the matter has been entered for appeal.
Nwogu also said the order of the court meant that the parties should maintain status quo and not to renew dates or events, adding that the attitude of APC amounts to contempt.
“The order was made to maintain status quo and not to renew dates or the events. The attempt of cancelling the earlier congress and holding same on later date, is to frustrate this suit and make the matter an academic exercise.
“It is a way to declare the judiciary moribund. I hereby, annul the congresses of the APC held on the 19th, 20th and 21st. I declare it as null and void and also stop them from holding any other congress in the state pending the out come of the suit,” Nwogu held.
He stated that the ruling was to restore the status-quo of the parties in the suit and adjourned till June 26, for hearing of the originating summons.