There was a twist in the Imo State All Progressives Congress (APC) Gubernatorial Primary tussle on Wednesday as an Abuja High Court joined the In-law of Imo state governor, Rochas Okorocha and delegates of Owerri zone of the APC in the suit filed by a factional candidate of the APC, Senator Hope Uzodinma.
Uzodinma had last week sought an order of the court directing the APC to forward his name (Uzodimma) to INEC as the Gubernatorial Candidate for Imo State Governorship Election for 2019.
He also prayed the court for another order restraining INEC from continuing to process or publish any other person’s name except the name Senator Uzodimma as governorship candidate of the APC in the 2019 election.
Defendants in the suit are the independent national electoral commission INEC and the APC.
However, delivering ruling on the exparte motion, trial judge, Justice Oathman Musa, who adjourned the matter to October 17, ordered the APC and INEC to show cause why Uzodinma’s prayers should not be granted by the court.
When the matter was called yesterday, three applicants informed the court of their applications before the court seeking to be joined as parties in the suit.
Meanwhile, Uche Nwosu, son inl-aw to Okorocha, who through his counsel Chief Niyi Akintola SAN sought to be joined in the suit filed by Uzodinma, through another of his lawyer, Kehinde Ogunwumiju SAN sought for the consolidation of all the cases relating to the Imo APC governorship primary.
The other applicants seeking to be joiners as parties are; Okere Uzochukwu and Alozie Okechukwu, who sued for themselves and the APC members who voted for Owerri zone candidates at the APC governorship primary election conducted by the Ahmed Gulak led Panel and Chitex Ventures limited and Chima Akuzie.
While Nwosu, who is current chief of Staff to Okorocha claimed that as a candidate, he would be affected one way or the other by the court decision on the suit, the Owerri zone claimed the interest of the entire people of Owerri zone would be at risk if they are shut out of the matter.
Their counsel, Kingdom Okere in arguing their application urged the court to disqualify both Uzodinma and Nwosu on the grounds that they ought not to contest the election on grounds that it is the turn of the Owerri zone to produce the next governor.
The third applicant, who were represented by Oluwatosin Ojaomo, however informed the court that the plaintiff is planning to use his money to contest the forthcoming governorship election, adding that a criminal matter has been instituted against him on alleged of issuance of bounce check in the sum ofN200m.
Justice Musa, after listening to the submissions of counsel to parties in the suit held that the case of Nwosu and delegates of Owerri is meritorious and consequently joined them as parties in the suit.
The Judge however, dismissed the suit filed by Chitex Ventures limited and Chima Akuzie for lacking in merit and an abuse of court process. The judge in addition awarded a cost of N20,000 against the applicant.
Justice Musa then adjourned the matter till October 23 and ordered parties to file and exchange processes reflective of all parties in the suit.
He held that his order directing APC and INEC to come and show cause subsist till the next adjourned date.
Meanwhile, two senior advocates in the matter threw decorum to the wind as the engage in heated verbal argument forcing Justice Musa to temporarily adjourned proceedings.
Temper flared between the two senior lawyers as to the order in which the proceedings should be conducted.
Akintola had stood up to argue that his motion seeking to be joined should be taken first, but Joe Agi (SAN), counsel to Uzodinma objected insisting that his should be taken first.
At a point, both lawyers were standing and speaking at the same time, thereby occasioning a rowdy proceedings.
The Judge intervened and drew the lawyers’ attention to the fact that it was wrong for both of them to stand and argue at the same time.
Responding, Akintola asked Agi to sit down because he (Akintola) was the senior.
Akintola’s claim to being the senior angered Agi, who shouted at Akintola, and said: “Who do you think you are? I was called to the Bar before you.”
In response, Akintola shouted back at Agi, saying: “But, I was made a Senior Advocate before you. I am a member of the body of Bencher and you are not.”
The hot exchange between both lawyers lasted for some minuites and created a rowdy atmosphere, compelling Justice Musa to rise and left for his chambers.
Other senior lawyers in court, including Damian Dodo, Kenneth Njemanze and Kehinde Ogunwumiju (all SANs) later intervened and calmed frayed nerves.
The senior lawyers in court later went to apologise to the Judge in his chambers.
When proceedings resumed about one hour later, Dodo apologised to the Judge in the open court.
Dodo said: “My Lord, I apologise for the incident that led to the abrupt rising of the court. I undertake that we will not to allow this to happen again.”
The judge accepted the apology and proceeded with the court’s business.