By Chinonso Alozie
OWERRI—A Federal High court sitting in Owerri, presided over by Justice Lewis Allagoa, yesterday nullified the ward and local government congresses of Imo State All Progressives Congress, APC.
Allagoa in his ruling in the suit No FHC/OW/CS/69/2018, which lasted for more than an hour said there was no congress held in the state in the first place.
He ordered the APC in the state to conduct a fresh congress.
He said: “APC should go back and conduct fresh congresses in accordance with the constitution of the party. They should be responsible and save our democracy.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which is the body mandated by the Electoral Act to supervise primaries and congresses of political parties in their report attached as exhibit by the Plaintiffs, affirmed that APC congresses were not held in the state.”
The Judge dismissed the argument by second and eight defendant, Kelvin Nwufor, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, that the plaintiffs did not get leave of court to serve the defendants outside the jurisdiction of the court, adding that the Federal High Court has one jurisdiction.
The court ruled that the plaintiffs having proved that they are members of the party and ward chairmen, have the locus standi to challenge the outcome of the ward congresses.
Okorocha hails judgment
Following the judgment of the federal high court, Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha yesterday hailed the confirmation that there was no congress of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state and then ruled that the congresses should be conducted in line with the provisions of the party’s constitution.
The governor remarked that the judgment of the court on the issue of APC congresses in Imo has only authenticated his sustained claim and that of patriotic leaders of APC in Imo that the congresses did not hold in the state with a lot of proofs to that effect.
The governor argued that the judiciary has remained not only the last hope of the common man, but also the last hope of institutions and processes especially as they concern our democracy.
He regretted that the former national officers of the party, had, for one reason or the other decided to mess up the congresses that would have taken place in the state and had also ignored his genuine concern and repeated appeal that the congresses should be conducted to enable party members in the state fully participate and elect officials of their choice.
He said Imo is the only APC state in the South-East and should have been encouraged to have successful congresses, to show good example to other states in the geo-political zone but regretted that those who had the task of conducting free and fair congresses decided to submerge the whole venture for their selfish agenda.
Hilary Eke’sleadership stillstands—Pub sec
Also reacting to the judgment, the Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr. Nwabueze Oguchienti under Hillary Eke, said that despite the outcome of the Federal High court judgment, the Eke’s leadership is still authentic.
According to Oguchienti, “I have called the legal adviser of the party. I want to tell him that we are going to appeal. The judgement does not mean that Chris Oguoma’s faction is now the authentic executive of APC in the state. That is not true. The status quo still remains.”
On the issue of the forthcoming APC local government election, Oguchienti said: “The judgment does not mean that Oguoma will conduct the APC primaries. I don’t see that happening. The judgement as it were means that the local government congresses and ward congresses still remain.”