APC National Officers Tenure Elongation: Legal Battle Begins

The Federal Court sitting in Abuja has fixed April 16, 2018, for definite hearing a suit challenging the tenure elongation of the National Executive Council (NEC ) of the All Progressive Congress (APC) led by Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
Some members of the party led by Ademorin Aliu Kioye had filed the suit after the party extended the tenure of NEC by one year.
The plaintiffs on March 15, 2018 secured an order ex-parte directing the defendants to show cause why the members of the National Executive Council of the APC should not be barred from parading themselves as national officials of the party.
The defendants to the suit are the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), All Progressive Party (APC), the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and the National organising Secretary Senator, Osita Izunaso.
When the matter came up for hearing Wednesday, the plaintiffs’counsel Jibrin Okutepa (SAN), told the court that all the defendants have been duly served with the court order of March 15, 2015, that set down the matter for hearing today.
Counsel to INEC, Idris Yakubu, said that the commission had filed a preliminary objection to the suit.
But the counsel to the APC, Joseph Daudu (SAN), said the party was served with the clear court order and it was clear that the court did not abridge the time within which the respondents were to file their processes.
He said the suit raised serious constitutional issues and it will be fair they file their processes as allowed by the rule because they are within time.
“For the interest of fair hearing, we are still within time to file our processes.we have a preliminary objection to the jurisdiction of this court”, he said.
Akin Olujimi (SAN) counse to Chief Odigie-Oyegun, associated himself with the submissions of Daudu (SAN) and added that the order of the court said nothing no the abridgement of times.
He argued that the processes filed was not ripe for hearing because they have 30 days to respond.
Plaintiff also served us process Tuesday. Except all parties agreed to the abridgement of time this suit is not ripe, he added.
Also opposed to the immediate hearing of the suit, James Onoja (SAN) counsel to the National Organising Secretary of the Party, Izunaso, said the matter was not ripe for hearing as he was not served with the processes.
Secondly, he argued that as member of the NEC of the party, he sees no reason why he was single out as a respondent to the suit. He also complained that the plaintiff misled the court by claiming he was served through the 1st defendant.
In his reply, Okutepa disagreed with the defendants’ counsel that the rule of the court allowed them 30 days to respond.
According to him, Order 13 rule 35 of the court provides 14 days for them to respond the service of the originating summons that was served on them on 14 March, 2018. Today is the 15 day, so it is ripe, he added.
Secondly, they were served with motion on notice for interlocutory injunction on same day and they ought to have replied within seven days.
Okutepa said that President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday evening at a meeting in Aso villa Abuja said that the NEC tenure elongation was unconstitutional, so they should allow the matter to be heard.
But Daudu urged the court to discountenance plaintiff counsel’s submissions because there were misconceived.
He submitted that the “plaintiff reply is misconceived. Order 7 rule 1 provides for 30 days from the date the suit is filed in the registry and the rule are to be read as whole.
“As far as President Buhari’s view are concerned, it carries no weight until the party meetsand decides and deliberates on it. As far as the party is concerned he is an ordinary member like others.”
In his ruling, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba held that the court will follow a road map that would guaranty fair hearing of the matter expeditiously. He ordered the parties to file all their processes before the adjourned dated of April 16.

Author: News Editor

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