By Tony Edike
ENUGU—AN Enugu High Court presided over by the State Chief Judge, Justice Innocent Umezulike, yesterday, stopped the National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA slated for today, in Abuja.
The court also extended by 48 days the interim injunction it granted on July 25 restraining the National Chairman of the party, Chief Victor Umeh from taking steps to convoke a national, state or local government executive committee meeting of the party or expelling any member of APGA.
Umeh had filed the preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court and the locus standi of the applicant in the suit, Jude Okoli, who is no longer a member of APGA having been expelled from the party last year.
After hearing arguments and submissions from counsels to parties in court, Justice Umezulike, who earlier promised to give a ruling yesterday based on the urgency of the matter, however, noted that weighty issues had been raised by Umeh’s counsel, Patrick Ikwueto, SAN in his preliminary objections asking the court to set aside the order.
In his ruling, Justice Umezulike enumerated the issues raised by the defendant’s counsel as competence of the court to grant the order, the locus standi of the applicant, nature of order amounting to abuse of court process and whether issues raised by applicant were internal affairs of the party and were “es topell” (already overtaken by events).
Umeh’s counsel Mr. Ikwueto, SAN, who led a team of lawyers, had earlier on Monday urged the court to entertain the application yesterday due to its urgent nature, explaining that the urgency was on the grounds that everything had been put in place for the National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting of the party slated for Wednesday, August 1.
Contending that the application which led to the injunction handed his client was in bad faith and frivolous. Ikwueto asked the court to hear their application immediately, yesterday.
Reacting to the ruling of the court, the APGA Chairman said the party was surprised by “the ruling of the court today which extended the ex-parte order it made on July 25, 2012 to September 17, 2012 without any request by the plaintiff for the court to do so. By Order 39 Rule 3(3) & (4) of the High Court Rules of Enugu State, 2006, an ex-parte order lasts for seven days and renewable at maximum for another seven days, which makes the lifespan of any ex-parte order obtained or made by any high court in Enugu State to lapse after 14 days. But today, the lifespan of the ex-parte order was extended to 48 days without any request from the plaintiff for such an extension.”