•Chekwas Okorie no longer our member — Abia chairman
By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA—Citing what he called Supreme Court’s correction of the judgment of October 14, 2021, Edozie Njoku has again called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to accord him due recognition as national chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA.
The party has been engulfed in a leadership tussle involving Victor Oye and Njoku with both men laying claims to the national chairmanship of the party. While Oye operates from the party’s national secretariat located at the Katampe district of the Federal Capital Territory, Njoku leads the affairs of the party from the Wuse II district of the nation’s capital.
In a letter addressed to the chairman of the commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Njoku said the correction of the apex court’s judgment by two highly revered Justices is enough to make the umpire accord him recognition without further delay.
The letter to INEC is the second in the series since the Supreme Court, according to Njoku, corrected its own error in May.
Titled, “Re: Notification of the Supreme Court’s recognition of Edozie Njoku as the national chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA,” the letter read:
“Sequel to our letter dated May 10, 2022 on the above subject matter and in furtherance to the Supreme Court correction on the judgment of October 14, 2021; I hereby attach the judgment of Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba in Suit No. SC.CV/687/2021 and Justice Mary Peter – Odili, in which important remarks have been made by the two Justices.
“Perhaps, the judgments of the Justices of the Supreme Court will guide the Commission appropriately;
(a) Justice Ibrahim Mohammed Saulawa’s judgment at the Supreme Court in Page 3 Paragraph 2 states:
‘The Court has an unfettered jurisdictional competence, nay and onerous duty to undo the mischief done by a party in the abuse of judicial process, most especially in the instant case, where the 3rd Respondent reprehensibly resorted to forum shopping. This is to avoid an unwholesome situation whereby the court would be presented with a fait accompli. Thus, this court is cloaked with the jurisdiction to restore the parties to the position they ought to have been prior to the offending action.
“I, Edozie Njoku was the subject matter at the trial court. Instructively, there are certain observations that are quite curious and have also made this matter an interesting one. It was the same court judgment which emanated from the trial court at Jigawa that the commission obeyed by recognizing Jude Okeke, as the national chairman, after he (Jude Okeke) obtained judgment of my purported suspension. To this effect, on August 7, 2021, the Commission recognized Chuma Umeoji as the rightful governorship candidate of APGA for the Anambra election in 2021.
“In his Judgment, Justice Lawal Garba Mohammed said, ‘With all the events happening and all the parties directly involved present in Imo State at the material time, the 3rd respondent manifestly embarked on what has now become known in our Judicial Jurisprudence as ‘forum shopping’ by going to initiate the action in the High Court of Jigawa State instead of the High Court of Imo State, where all the facts and events giving rise to the cause of action are shown to have occurred or happened’.
“Ozonkpu Victor Oye was never part of the Owerri convention which is very clear to the Election and Party Monitoring Department (EPM) of the commission.
“Delivering the lead Judgment, Justice Mary Peter – Odili reasoned that;
‘It needs be stated at this point that the dispute being who should be the acting national chairman of the 1st Respondent, APGA and whether the Chairman, Edozie Njoku was validly replaced are within the confines of the internal affairs of the 1st Respondent which is not justiciable.
“This makes it clear that no Court could have removed Edozie Njoku from office as it is not justifiable.
“By October 14, 2021, when the Supreme Court made the mistake of inserting Ozonkpu Victor Ike Oye’s name where Edozie Njoku’s name was meant to be, the Commission quickly acknowledged Oye, as the national chairman of APGA, immediately removing Chuma Umeoji’s name and putting in that of Prof. C. C. Soludo, notwithstanding that Ozonkpu Victor Ike Oye never participated at the Owerri Convention which has been affirmed by the Supreme Court.
“Now, the Supreme Court has corrected a fundamental error in their Judgment, which is in my favour. It is incomprehensible that the commission has refused to obey the Supreme Court judgment which has been acknowledged by the commission as an authentic judgment from the Supreme Court. What really is holding the commission from recognizing me as the authentic National Chairman of APGA?
“Mr. Chairman, when I was denied joinder at the Kano Appeal Court, in Suit No: CA/KN/146/2021 between APGA & 1 Ors and Rabiu Garba Aliyu & 2 Ors, after all the drama, the court had this to say on Page 78, I quote,
‘As I stated earlier, the disputes or cause of action between the 1st Respondent and 2nd Respondent centered on the question of the national chairman of the 1st Applicant. The 1st and 2nd Respondents, claimed that the national chairman had been suspended by the party which necessitated the appointment of an acting chairman and whose position was in contention (Edozie Njoku) was never joined as a party so that he could be heard at the allegation against him which led to the contest between the 1st and 2nd Respondents.’
“Mr. Chairman, we can see that the correction of the Supreme Court is a correction to a miscarriage of justice, which the Supreme Court has rectified and pronouncing me as the national chairman of APGA, owing to the dismissal of Jude Okeke’s case at Jigawa Court as forum shopping.
The letter dated June 29, 2022 was copied Mrs May Agbamuche – Mbu (INEC’s national commissioner in charge of legal matters), Festus Okoye (national commissioner for Information and Voter Education) and all national commissioners.
APGA: Chekwas Okorie no longer our member —Abia chairman
Meantime, the Abia State chapter of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, has said the founding national chairman of the party, Chekwas Okorie, is no longer a member of the party.
Addressing journalists in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, chairman of the party in the state, Rev. Augustine Ehiemere also said the national chairman of the party remains Victor Oye.
According to him, Okorie “was expelled in 2003 for anti-party activities and embezzlement of party funds. And a few years after his expulsion, he floated the United Peoples Grand Alliance in 2012,” he said.
Ehiemere further said that Okorie later joined the All Progressives Congress, APC, but did not last long in the party.
The APGA chieftain said that it was laughable for Okorie to turn around to claim to be the party’s Presidential flag bearer in the 2023 Presidential election.
He said: “For record purposes, Chekwas Okorie is not a member of APGA let alone being its Presidential candidate. He has lost his political value and credibility as far as Nigerian politics is concerned.
“All his efforts now is to see how he can eke a living by joining Edozie Njoku to parade themselves as the national chairman and Presidential candidate of APGA, respectively.
“They are both aware that their claims are false and fraudulent.”
Ehiemere described Okorie and Njoku as “political impostors, who want to reap where they have not sown”.
It would be recalled that Chekwas Okorie emerged Presidential flag-bearer of the faction led by Edozie Njoku a few days after the Oye-led National Working Committee produced Peter Umeadi, a former Chief Judge of Anambra State as the party’s candidate.