By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, yesterday, okayed accelerated hearing of a suit seeking to sack National Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
The suit was filed March 8 by four members of the party, who told the court that they were aspiring to run for leadership positions in the APC.
The defendants are challenging the extension of the tenure of incumbent holders of executive offices of the party.
Aside from Odigie-Oyegun, others the plaintiffs urged the court to compel to vacate their positions at the expiration of their current tenure are officials of the party at the national, state, local government area, and ward levels across the country.
It will be recalled that National Executive Council, NEC, of the APC had at a meeting February 27, 2018, extended the four-year tenure of the party officials due to expire on June 30 by one year.
However, the plaintiffs, Ademorin Kuye from Lagos State; Sani Mayanchi from Zamfara State and currently Publicity Secretary of the party in the state; Are Mutiu, also from Lagos State, and Machu Tokwat from Kaduna State, maintained that the action of the APC NEC was illegal.
Meanwhile, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, before granting accelerated hearing of the case, refused a motion ex-parte that prayed the court to make an order, temporarily halting the implementation of the tenure extension handed to Chief Odigie-Oyegun and other executives of the party, pending the hearing of the motion for interlocutory injunction filed by the plaintiffs.
Ruling on the exparte motion moved by the plaintiffs’ counsel, Mr. Ahmed Raji, SAN, Justice Dimgba granted four of the prayers sought in it and rejected three others bordering on interim restraining orders.
Justice Dimgba held that it would be improper to grant the interim orders without hearing from the respondents.
The court said it would rather expedite hearing of the suit to be able to deliver its judgment before June 30, when the tenure of the officials would be deemed to have expired.
Justice Dimgba, therefore, ordered that the four respondents— INEC, APC, Odigie-Oyegun and Isunaso — be put on notice to enable them to react to the application for interim injunction.
Besides, the judge granted leave to the plaintiffs to serve the originating summons and all other accompanying processes in the suit on the 3rd and 4th defendants (Odigie-Oyegun and Isunaso) by substituted means, through the 2nd defendant’s (APC) office at Plot 40, Blantyre Avenue, Wuse 2, Abuja.
He also granted an order deeming the service of the originating sumons and all other accompanying processes in this suit on the 3rd defendant (Odigie-Oyegun) in terms of relief 2 above, as proper service.
Among the three prayers in the exparte motion which the court rejected, included one seeking an order of interim injunction restraining all the party officials whose tenure extension is being challenged, from parading themselves as the party’s officials upon the expiration of their tenure on June 30, “unless they are democratically re-elected” at the party’s convention or congress organised for that purpose pending the determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.
Likewise an order of interim injunction restraining the 3rd defendant (Odigie-Oyegun) and other officials of the party elected between April and June 2014 from further parading themselves as officials of the party after June 30, 2018″except they are re-elected at the convention or congress” of the party, pending the determination of the motion for interlocutory injunction.
The court also refused to grant an interim injunction restraining the 2nd and 3rd defendants (APC and Odigie-Oyegun) “from further holding the 4th defendant (Isunaso) as the National Organising Secretary” of the party “unless he is democratically elected at a convention/congress organised by the 2nd defendant (APC) for that purpose”.
The case was subsequently adjourned till March 28 for hearing.