There was confusion on Thursday as two courts of equal jurisdiction, in a space of 24 hours, gave contradictory orders on the embattled National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole.
Justice A. Lewis-Allagoa, sitting at the Federal High Court in Kano on Thursday, voided the suspension of Oshiomhole as a member of the APC.
He also held that the Independent National Electoral Commission should not recognise anybody, except Oshiomhole, as the APC national chairman.
Justice Lewis-Allagoa’s ruling came a day after Justice Danlami Senchi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Jabi, made an order suspending Oshiomhole as the national chairman of the APC.
Justice Senchi had premised his order suspending Oshiomhole as the APC national chairman on the November 2, 2019 resolution of the Ward 10, Etsako West Local Government Area.
Justice Senchi held that Oshiomhole could not continue to function as the APC national chairman when he had been suspended by his ward.
The Abuja judge ordered Oshiomhole to stop parading himself as the APC national chairman, and ordered the APC to deny him access to the party national secretariat
But on Thursday, Justice Lewis-Allagoa held that the November 2, 2019 “purported resolution of the Ward 10, Etsako West Local Government Area, Edo State APC,” suspending Oshiomhole as a member of the APC was of no effect.
The judge, who ordered that the status quo ante bellum should be maintained, directed all parties to the suit before him on the subject, not to give any effect whatsoever to the “purported resolution” suspending Oshiomhole as a member of the APC.
He made an interim order, directing the APC; the INEC; the Inspector-General of Police; and the Director General, State Security Service “either by themselves, servants, privies, assigns or any other officer, howsoever described and by whatever name called, from giving effect to the purported resolution of Ward 10, Etsako West Local Government Area of 2nd November 2019 suspending the 2nd defendant (Oshiomhole) as a member of the 1st defendant (APC) pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”
The judge also restrained INEC from “dealing, communicating or howsoever recognising any person other than the 2nd defendant (Oshiomhole) as the national chairman of the 1st defendant (APC) for any party business or carrying out any duties in the commission by the Electoral Act.”
The ex parte application leading to Justice Lewis-Allagoa’s orders was filed by one Aliyu Muhammad Rabiu.
The judge adjourned till April 8 to hear the motion on notice filed by Rabiu.
The two court orders worsened the crisis in the APC on Thursday. The embattled national chairman’s supporters flaunted the order of the court in Kano at the party’s national secretariat.
A statement by Oshiomhole’s media aide, Mr Simon Ebegbulem, read, “A Federal High Court Kano, set aside the ruling of the FCT High Court upholding the suspension of the APC National Chair, Oshiomhole from the party. Order police, DSS to provide security to the National Chair to resume office.”
Oshiomhole had invited journalists to his private office for a press conference on Thursday, but changed his mind when reporters arrived at the venue.
He said he was on his way to the Presidential Villa, stating, “Someone will speak to you, but if you are here by the time I return I will speak to you.” He went into his waiting vehicle and left.
His media aide and other associates, gave copies of the Kano Federal High Court injunction to journalists, saying a press conference might be held on Friday.
However, the court process had not been served the party as of the time of filing this report (6:00pm).
In response to the new development, the party’s National Vice- Chairman (North-East), Salihu Mustapha, described the injunction obtained by the national chairman as a nullity.
Mustapha said, “I want to tell you from my little knowledge of the law, that two courts of coordinate jurisdiction cannot seat on appeal on an order or judgment given by each other. A Federal High Court cannot seat on appeal on FCT High Court.
“The only court that has the jurisdiction to seat an appeal is the court of appeal in this case and the court order of the FCT high court was served yesterday (Wednesday), most of you have copies of the order and it is an elementary law that first in time prevails.
“That of Abuja high court came earlier and we seek for interlocutory injunction and there is affidavit of urgency which seeks to prevail certain kinds of mischief which we prayed that the court should help prevail which they did so.
“If you look at the main reason why that introductory letter is 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 a lawyer to know that a high court cannot seat on a matter of appeal in high court.” – Punch.