By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA– The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, on Tuesday, affirmed the suspension of the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Adams Oshiomhole by his Ward.
In a unanimous judgment, a three-man panel of justices of the appellate court held that appeal Oshiomhole lodged to challenge his suspension lacked merit.
Justice Mohammed Lamido who delivered the lead verdict dismissed the appeal and affirmed the decision of an Abuja High Court that earlier validated Oshiomhole’s suspension by his ward in Edo state.
It will be recalled that the Abuja High Court at Jabi had on March 4, suspended Oshiomhole from performing the duties of the National Chairman of the APC.
The court, in a ruling by Justice Danlami Senchi, directed that Oshiomhole should remain out of office pending the determination of a substantive suit that was brought against him by some aggrieved members of the party.
The order followed an application of interlocutory injunction that six plaintiffs, led by one Mustapha Salihu, filed through their lawyer, Mr. Oluwole Afolabi.
They had among other things, prayed the court to oust Oshiomhole from office, alleging that he was previously suspended as a member of the party from his Etsako ward 10, in Edo State.
Whereas Oshiomhole was cited as the 1st Respondent in the matter, the APC was sued as the 2nd Respondent.
In the application dated January 16, the plaintiffs, told the court that Oshiomhole failed to challenge his suspension in his primary Ward in Edo state.
They argued that since his suspension remained extant, his rights as a member of the party are currently abated, insisting that he could therefore not continue to head the APC as its Chairman.
The plaintiffs also contended that it would be legally wrong for Oshiomhole to continue to enjoy benefits from the APC because of his suspension as a member of the party.
Ruling on the matter, Justice Senchi held that the 2nd Respondent (APC), wrongfully retained Oshiomhole as its National Chairman because of the affidavit evidence before the court.
Consequently, he ordered that Oshiomhole should stop parading himself as the National Chairman of the APC.
Besides, Justice Senchi directed the party to stop acknowledging Oshiomhole as the Chairman of the APC, saying he should be granted access to the party’s Secretariat.
Justice Senchi stressed that political parties must be bound by their constitution.
He held that since Oshiomhole had been suspended in his Ward and the suspension not challenged, he had no business any longer parading himself as National Chairman of the party.
Meanwhile, Oshiomhole, through his lawyer, Mr. Damian Dodo, SAN, challenged the competence of the suit which he said constituted an abuse of the court process.
Aside from querying the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter, Oshiomhole maintained that the plaintiffs lacked the locus standi to seek such reliefs against him.
He subsequently secured an order of the Court of Appeal on March 16 to stay the execution of the court order that suspended him from office.
Meantime, in its final judgment on Tuesday, the appellate court upheld the decision of the lower court.
It described Oshiomhole’s appeal against his suspension as “unmeritorious”.
The three-man panel held that the Respondents had the right to approach the court to seek an injunctive order against the continued stay in office of the Appellant.
More so, the appellate court said it was satisfied that the appellant was not denied fair hearing by the lower court.
It further affirmed the decision of the trial to dismiss a preliminary objection Oshiomhole raised against the suit, adding that the Abuja court had the requisite jurisdiction to entertain the case.