Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Why Court Re-affirms Chief Victor Umeh as APGA National Chairman today?

Victor UmehThe Court of Appeal Abuja Division today re-affirmed Chief Victor Umeh and Alhaji Sani Abdulahi Shinkafi as the National Chairman and National Secretary respectively of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) just as it set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court Abuja which had sacked them and the entire leadership of the party.
In allowing the appeal the Court of Appeal held that the 1st respondent Maxi Okwu has no locus standi to have instituted the suit having been expelled from the party.
The Court of Appeal also berated Justice Abdul Kafarati of the Federal High Court for assuming jurisdiction in the matter when he lacks the jurisdiction to have gone into the matter in the first place.
In allowing the 12 grounds of raised by Umeh and Shinkafi the appellate court in a unanimous decision held that the respondent (Maxi Okwu) does not have the locus standi to institute the action having ceased to be a member of APGA having been expelled by the party.
According to Justice Tani Hassan who read the lead judgment "The appeal is against a Federal High Court delivered on January 15th which had dissolved the entire leadership of APGA elected in 2011 the party. On whether the appellants complied with the provisions of the APGA constitution I hold that they substantially complied with the said constitution.
"I also Uphold all the 12 grounds of appeal brought by the appellants. The trial judge Justice Abdul Kafarati should not have assumed jurisdiction to entertain the suit when there is a subsisting judgment of the Court of Appeal Enugu Division" he added.
The court also upheld the APGA convention conducted in February 10th 2011 as having complied with the provisions of the APGA constitution. The court further held that Kafarati had no jurisdiction on the matter as there was a subsisting judgment of the Court of Appeal Enugu Division which had nullified the decision of the Enugu State High Court presided over by the Chief of Enugu State Justice Innocent Umezurike.
Umeh we are grateful to God for his infinite mercy, the judgment was very emphatic that the February 10th, 2011 convention of the party was conducted in consonance with the APGA Constitution, so this has reinforced our belief in the judiciary.
According to Umeh"I will start by giving immense thanks to God Almighty, who despite the force of attacks of my leadership has continued to sustain us, God in his infinite mercy will always uphold the rightly because he is a God of Justice. It is regrettable that APGA has been subjected to a lot of senseless leadership crisis over the years. But one thing that has remained constant over the years has bee the triumph of my leadership of the party despite the different shades that these attacks take.
"It is not far fetched it because we have been very patriotic, we have been very dedicated and we have always followed the constitution and due process in everything we. So when few disgruntled elements within the party and some external enemies the party launch attacks against my leadership, the court will always vindicate us especially at the appellate courts level. All the judicial ambushes  against my leadership had always failed at the Court of Appeal. It goes without saying that all the claims by those who instigate these crisis are treated truthfully by the lower courts" he added.
Umeh stated that "the Court of Appeal this morning covered all the grounds for avoidance of doubts, the Court of Appeal affirmed for a second time the convention conducted by APGA on 10th February 2011 which produced my leadership for another four years and said that we followed our party's constitution in doing that, the 12 grounds of appeal which we took to the court against Justice Kafarati's judgment all of them succeeded. None failed and in the light of this judgment, one begins to wonder what some High Judges are doing in this country.
"It was the same with the judgment of Enugu State High that started the crisis in APGA, through its judgment of 8th February,2013. When I challenged that judgment, at the Court of Appeal all the eleven grounds of appeal which we submitted succeeded. When they returned to Abuja Justice Kafarati threw caution to the wind and repeated what Justice Umezuruike did, but the Court of Appeal this morning set aside his entire judgemt and faulted him in all his conclusions. It goes without saying that something must be done to cleanse the judiciary" he declared.
The APGA National Chairman noted that "it is time for the National a Judicial Council to review his continued stay on the bench as the judgments he has rendered in the past constitutes very grave embarrassment to the Nigerian judiciary. This is a judge that is known for giving judgments on issues not related to what is before him. This is a judge that is notorious for handing judgments to people without recourse to principles of law. So it is a very grave three to the integrity of the nation's judiciary. Due to his conduct I would not be too hard if I asked him to resign.
It would be recalled that the appellants Umeh and  Shinkafi, had in the appeal challenged the whole decision of the court presided over by Justice Kafarati which had sacked them and the entire leadership of the party on the grounds that he erred in law and occasioned a miscarriage of Justice when he refused to uphold the preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit.
In the appeal they had averred that the trial judge erred in law and thereby occasioned a grievous miscarriage of Justice in refusing to abide by and giving effect to the judgment/order by the Court of Appeal Enugu Division in Appeal number CA/E/84/2013 between Chief a Chief Victor Umeh v Ichie Okuli Jude Ejike delivered on July 15th 2013 where the Court of Appeal returned Chief Victor Umeh as the National Chairman of APGA.
They also contended that the trial court also overlooked and ignored the radical point of the absence as a party of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, a duly registered political party as the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs/respondents including the questions for determination in the originating summons directly and legally affected APGA.
They also said that the trial judge ignored and overlooked the binding and authoritative decisions of the Supreme Court in Oloriode v Oyebi, 1984 SCNLR 390 at 394 and the unreported judgment of the Court of Appeal in appeal number CA/E/84/2024 Chief a Victor Umeh v Ichie Okuli Jude a Ejike and a host of other judicial authorities.
According to them through their counsel Patrick Ikwueto, SAN "the trial judge also erred in law when he relied on the admission in the further and better affidavit in support of the originating summons that the 1st plaintiff (Maxi Okwu) after his expulsion as a member of APGA came back to the party in February 2013 or thereabouts.
"The learned trial judge noted that the 1st respondent's expulsion as a member of APGA was confirmed by the judgment if the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court delivered on January 13th 2010 and March 23rd 2011 respectively. The plaintiff was not a member of APGA as at February 10th 2011 when APGA held its national convention and other members of the National Working Committee of the party.
That the 1st plaintiff has no locus standing to challenge actions, decision and or resolutions taken by the party at a time he was admittedly not a member of APGA having been expelled from the party a fact that was buttressed by the judgments of the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court delivered on January 13th, 2010 and March 23rd 2011.
The appellants further asked the Court of Appeal to determine whether the court was right to have gone ahead to adjudicate on the matter when it lacks the jurisdiction to do so.
In their argument they averred that "the pertinent question is, assuming without conceding, that the 1st respondent (Okwu) became a member of APGA in Novemebrt 2012 as shown on his membership card (exhibit A) or came back to APGA in February 2013 or thereabout, what entities him to challenge the actions/decisions including elections conducted by APGA on February 10th 2011 when he was admittedly not a member of the party? Simply put, can a non member of a political party challenge and or question actions/decisions taken by the political party?
 

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