The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, yesterday declared he would hold on to his position despite the court order that upheld his suspension from the party.
A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Jabi District, had yesterday upheld the suspension of Oshiomhole, pending the determination of a substantive suit before it.
The judge, Danlami Senchi, gave the order following an application of interlocutory injunction seeking an order of the court to suspend Oshiomhole, having been suspended as a member of the APC from his Etsako ward 10 in Edo State.
In the application filed on January 16, 2020 by Oluwole Afolabi, as an applicant, and Oshiomhole as the first respondent, while the APC is the second respondent, the applicant contended that Oshiomhole is currently suspended by the party and has not challenged the suspension.
The counsel to Oshiomhole and APC is Mr. Damian Dodo (SAN).
According to Afolabi, Oshiomhole’s right as an APC member is currently abated, therefore, he cannot continue to act as the chairman of the party. He argued that Oshiomhole could not continue to enjoy benefits from the APC, despite his suspension as a member of the party.
Justice Senchi, in his ruling, held that the first and second respondents wrongfully kept Oshiomhole as the national chairman of the party. The court also ordered that Oshiomhole should stop parading himself as the chairman of the APC.
The judge, therefore, urged the APC to desist from acknowledging him as the chairman of the party. The judge ordered the party not to grant Oshiomhole access to the secretariat.
Hearing in the substantive matter was adjourned to April 7 and 8.
But the former Edo State governor, who spoke through his aide on media, Mr. Simon Ibegbulem, disclosed that he had already approached an appellate court to void his suspension from the party.
“Our legal department is studying the matter and we have filed for a stay of execution and appealed the ruling. With those processes Oshiomhole remains the national chairman of the party,” he said.
However, APC said it would respect the decision of the court which upheld the suspension of Oshiomhole.
The Acting National Secretary of the APC, Victor Geidom, confirmed the party’s position on the matter at an interactive session with newsmen at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja.
“As a party, we are aware of the injunction. As a law-abiding party, we will respect all lawful court orders. Very soon the National Working Committee will meet and you will hear further from the party. I am trying to say that the APC will respect all lawful court orders. We will soon do that.”
Asked whether Oshiomhole was truly on suspension, he retorted: “Like I do said, there’s a court injunction and it is binding on us as a party to respect all the court injunction.”
He said it was not within his powers to determine whether Oshiomhole’s successor would be named soon.
On the presence of heavily armed security personnel at the secretariat of the party, he said there was nothing unusual about it. “There is nothing new about that. There have always been security at the national secretariat of the party.”
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki expressed satisfaction with the court ruling.
Obaseki, who spoke during a rally in Edo South senatorial district, said “APC is one in Edo State. Court today has finally taken the right decision to suspend Oshiomhole.
“We have victory in the court today. I am not a happy person because we shouldn’t have gone to this extent. APC is one and there is no division in the party.
“Even though we are celebrating today, for me, it is with mixed feelings. I believe we have all learned an additional lesson. Today is the beginning of a new era of peace for our party, particularly for the party in Edo State,” the governor said.
The state chairman of APC, Mr. Anselm Ojezua, said that the order of court upholding the suspension of Oshiomhole would provide room for genuine reconciliation in the party.
A Kano-based lawyer, Abubakar Sani, said: “It is a travesty. It is settled that no court has the power to dabble in the internal affairs of a political party – beyond intervening to ensure that the party complies with its own constitution in the overall interest of ensuring that the party observes internal democracy in nominating its candidates for general elections.
“Besides, the procedure by which the order of suspension was obtained is suspect, because it is reserved for cases of extreme urgency, in order to forestall or avert irreparable damage to the applicant, which cannot be compensated by an award of costs. Needless to say, it is doubtful if that situation existed within the APC to warrant resorting to such a procedure.”
A Lagos lawyer and activist, Toluwani Adebiyi, said: “It was long expected. When you claim to be for the poor masses and for long pitching your tent with them, fighting against the government, and suddenly make a U-turn to join them in eating the national cake, no matter what you achieve in joining the ruling elites, you will end up in disgrace. This is because that is not your naturally ordained constituency, such is only in the camp of the enemies, the enemies of the poor masses.”
An Owerri-based legal practitioner, Ike Augustine, said the court only relied on the suspension by Edo State APC to order parties to maintain status quo pending the determination of the substantive suit after hearing the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction after parties were duly heard, and not on ex parte application as wrongly conceived by some persons.