Desmond Mgboh, Kano, and Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The battle for the soul of the All Progressives Congress (APC) continued yesterday as a Federal High Court sitting in Kano, presided by Justice Lewis Allagoa, issued an interim order asking the party to maintain the status quo, pending the hearing of the substance suit on the leadership dispute.
The order of the court, yesterday, followed an ex parte application filed by a member of party, Aliyu Mohammed Rabiu.
The court held that Adams Oshiomhole remained the national chairman of the APC and directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to recognise any other person.
Allagoa also ordered the police and the Department of State Security (DSS) to provide security for Oshiomhole to resume at his office. The court adjourned the matter to April 8 for hearing of the substantive suit.
On Wednesday, Justice Danlami Senchi of the Federal High Court, Abuja, granted an order of interim injunction stopping Oshiomhole from parading himself as the APC national chairman. However, hours after the ruling, Oshiomhole appealed the judgment at the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division.
There may be no end to the controversy soon, as a faction of the National Working Committee (NWC) has dismissed the court order vacating Oshiomhole’s suspension.
The NWC members equally vowed to investigate the authenticity of the statement admitting the trio of Abiola Ajimobi, Waziri Bulama and Paul Chukwuma as members of the national leadership of the party. APC national vice chairman, Salihu Mustapha, warned anyone found culpable would be sanctioned.
Speaking to newsmen at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja, Mustapha condemned the ruling of the Kano State High Court vacating the suspension. He further argued that the two courts were courts of coordinating jurisdiction and, therefore had, no jurisdiction to set aside the ruling of the other.
The APC national vice chairman said: “First of all, I want be very brief because the case is in court and I am the plaintiff, so it would be sub judice for me. But I want to tell you from my knowledge of law that two courts of coordinate jurisdiction cannot sit on appeal on an order or judgment given by each other.
“A federal high court cannot sit on appeal on (a matter in the) FCT high court. The only court that has the jurisdiction to sit on an appeal is the Court of Appeal, in this case, and the court order of the FCT high court was served yesterday.
“Most of you have the copy of the order and it is an elementary law that first in time prevails. That of the Abuja high court came earlier and we seek for interlocutory injunction and there is affidavit of urgency, which seeks to prevent certain kinds of mischief, which we prayed that the court should help prevent, which they did.
“So, if you look at the main reason why that interlocutory injunction was 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 law to know that a high court cannot sit on a matter of appeal in (another) high court.”
Asked if there was a leadership vacuum in the party, he said: “We are in the secretariat and we are running the affairs of the party. So, the suspension still prevails until the hearing of the matter or if there is any contrary order from the Court of Appeal.”
On Oshionhole’s statement issued yesterday admitting three national officers into the NWC, he said: “It is very pathetic and disturbing because we saw an announcement that purported that we approved nominations of three officers on January 14. One of these officers, which is the deputy national chairman, South, the nomination from his state came to the national vice chairman on February 28, almost 40 days after the date of the purported meeting.
“…I am a NWC member and I was not in the meeting where the decision to admit these persons as NWC members was taken. Where is the minutes of the meeting, where was it held? And how do we approve a nomination that is yet to come? We are not running a banana republic.”
Meanwhile, six NWC members met, yesterday, at the APC secretariat, which, according to sources, was to review the suspension of the chairman and the admission of three national officers into the NWC. It was chaired by the acting national secretary, Victor Giadom.