Legal Nigeria

Obey Supreme Court’s judgement on APGA leadership tussle now, Njoku charges INEC

National chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Edozie Njoku has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to accord him full recognition, following the judgement of the Supreme Court on the party’s leadership tussle.

Njoku who petitioned the Supreme Court to revisit what he called “the error” it its earlier ruling on the matter, noted that apex court did the needful on May 9 this year, lamenting however, that that INEC is yet to obey the judgment 34 days after it was given.

In a letter addressed to the chairman of the commission and copied President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila among others, Njoku wondered why the electoral umpire appears reluctant to obey the judgment of the highest court in the land.

Titled, “Ignoring Supreme Court Judgment: A threat to democracy,” Njoku stated: “Prior to the Anambra governorship election, the two APGA factions under the leadership of Dr. Victor Ike Oye and myself were locked in keen competition, as to who was the authentic National Chairman of APGA, and which Convention of the two factions conducted in Owerri and in Awka was legitimate.

“However, before any of us could submit names of candidates to INEC, Chief Jude Okeke rushed to Birnin Kudu in Jigawa State and filed a suit, in Suit No: JDU/022/2021. The suit was between Alhaji Garba Aliyu and Chief Jude Okeke and two others.

“Clearly, the Jigawa judgement affirmed the Owerri Convention and my suspension as National Chairman of APGA. Instantly, INEC obeyed the Jigawa Judgement declaring Jude Okeke as the National Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). Kindly note that Chief Victor Oye was neither a party to the suit nor was he mentioned in the entire matter.

“Surprisingly, at the Kano Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, the APGA leadership tussle was erroneously resolved in favour of Dr. Victor Ike Oye on October 14, 2021. In less than 24 hours, in total reverence to the Supreme Court Judgement, INEC replaced Jude Okeke’s name with that of Dr. Victor Ike Oye as the rightful National Chairman of APGA.

“Seven months later, our legal team discovered that Oye’s name was wrongly inserted where Njoku’s name ought to have been. On May 6, 2022, APGA as a Party called the attention of the Supreme Court to this fundamental error through a letter to Hon. Justice Mary Peter- Odili and other four Justices on that panel; requesting the Justices of the Panel to revisit the matter in line with the extant law.

“The Supreme Court Panel headed by Justice Mary Peter Odili committed time and energy to understudy the case and afterwards, the lead Judgement containing the error was rectified on May 9, 2022.

“Sir, for the purposes of clarity, Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court of Nigeria states: ‘the Supreme Court can Suo Motu or by a letter (application), review any judgment once given and delivered by it save to correct any clerical mistake or some error arising from any accidental slip or omission, or to vary the judgment or order so as to give effect to its meaning or intention’. This was what the Supreme Court relied on in this instance.”

The letter further read: “Now that the Supreme Court Judgement is in my favour, INEC has continued to prevaricate for over 34 ( Thirty Four Days now)! This is very unfortunate and seriously worrisome as it is a great threat to Nigerian democracy and rule of law! It is very insensitive and a very terrible precedence for your office to fail to or continue to delay the implementation of the judgement of Nigeria Supreme Court.

“Honourable Chairman, in spite of the two letters that we have written to your office requesting the Commission’s compliance with the said Supreme Court judgement, thirty four days (34) has gone and the Commission has continued to play a very dangerous and debilitative mind game on a matter that bothers on the survival or otherwise of the Party.

“I am as curious as any other Nigerian as to why it has taken this long for a Supreme Court judgment to be obeyed. It has never taken this long for the Commission to acknowledge Court judgements, considering the fact this is the same Suit that gave Jude Okeke the National Chairmanship of APGA at the Lower Court, which was swiftly complied with by INEC. When the Supreme Court erroneously gave Oye victory, INEC still obliged him.

“Few days ago, INEC resolved the issue of who is the authentic Presidential candidate of Labour Party. We are not unaware of the pressures and sensations that the APGA leadership tussle has attracted, but, doing the right thing would be walking the path less traveled by many and that would make all the difference.

“Permit me to digress a bit. Our journey in APGA since 2019, was simply to infuse and advance discipline and mainstream the APGA ideology which maintains that political parties are platforms for people to converge, congregate, ventilate and actualize their dreams of how they want their country to be; it is not a platform for primordial, parochial and ulterior pursuits.

“Finally, given your sterling performance and legacies in INEC, it is instructive to state that ‘the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stand in moments of comfort and convenience. Rather, where he stand in moments of challenge and controversy.’

“As posterity beckons, we look forward to your office’s immediate formal recognition as the lawful leadership of APGA in line with the extant laws upon which INEC was created and the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended.”