By TONY EDIKE
ENUGU—THE Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu, yesterday, adjourned indefinitely the appeal before it over the leadership of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, pending the decision of the National Judicial Council, NJC, on the petition written by the respondent, Jude Okuli accusing the presiding justices of bias.
The three-man panel of justices, including Paul Galinje (Chairman), Justice F. A. Kwasami and Tom Yakubu, who presided over the appeal, said at the resumed hearing yesterday that the respondent, Mr. Okuli, had petitioned the NJC over the ruling staying the execution of Enugu State High Court’s decision that removed APGA National chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, from office.
According to the chairman of the panel, Justice Galinje, the NJC had forwarded a copy of the petition to him for his comment and he had since done that.
He said since they were aware of the pendency of the petition, the substantive appeal could not be heard until the council took decision on the petition.
He, therefore, adjourned the matter sine die, saying further hearing of the appeal would depend on the outcome of the petition before the NJC.
Meanwhile, the appeal filed by Okuli at the Supreme Court against the stay of execution granted Umeh by the appellate court, had been slated for hearing on December 16 and 17, this year, one month after the scheduled November 16 governorship election in Anambra State.
The Federal High Court sitting in Awka had last week, vacated the interim order it earlier made restraining Mr. Maxi Okwu, chairman of Governor Peter Obi’s faction of APGA , but declared that its action had no effect whatsoever on the decision of the Appeal Court which restored Umeh to his position as APGA national chairman.
Speaking with newsmen after the court session, yesterday, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, who led Chief Umeh’s team of lawyers, including Chief Patrick Ikweto, SAN, said the decision of the court to step the matter down indefinitely until it hears from NJC was fair enough, adding that the panel had shown clearly that it had no personal interest in the matter.
“The situation of the matter now is as announced by the court. The court said until it hears from the National Judicial Council, that is fair enough and I want to commend the Justices of the Court of Appeal, it shows that they don’t have anything at stake, they don’t have interest in anybody or person and that is how it should be. I believe that’s how Justice should be dispensed.
“That means they don’t have what we call insurable interest in the subject matter, that who wins or who loses. That’s an open demonstration of impartiality by the panel of Justices.
“There is a national chairman in place and that’s Victor Umeh so even if they like, let them frustrate the appeal until the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“The law is certain, the law is clear; the court has decided that until otherwise ruled or decided, Victor Umeh is the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grad Alliance, APGA.
“So let them continue to frustrate the appeal, they have gone to the Supreme court, so let us wait until the Supreme Court sets that decision aside.
“So there is no fluidity on the status quo. They have appealed that decision, let us wait. The Supreme Court has given us 16th and 17th of December, may God grant us life, we will be there but until then the ruling of court of appeal bids everybody,” Olanipekun said.