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INEC formally recognises Chief Edozie Njoku as APGA National Chairman

INEC’s recognition of Chief Njoku has put to rest the protracted legal tussle over who is the rightful National Chairman of the party

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INEC formally recognises Chief Edozie Njoku as APGA National Chairman

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has formally recognised Chief Edozie Njoku as the elected National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

INEC’s recognition of Chief Njoku has put to rest the protracted legal tussle over who is the rightful National Chairman of the party.

A statement on Tuesday by Muhyideen Imam, National Secretary of APGA, titled ‘INEC formally recognises Chief Edozie Njoku as APGA National Chairman’ made available to newsmen stated: ‘The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has just confirmed and affirmed Chief Edozie Njoku as the National Chairman of APGA”.

INEC has also confirmed the development on its website as the name of Chief Edozie Njoku has been conspicuously imprinted on the commission’s website.

READ ALSO: Court of Appeal declares Edozie Njoku as legitimate APGA chairman

Recall that the leadership crisis in APGA had exposed the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, as being partisan and was sued for contempt of court following his refusal to recognise Njoku as national chairman of APGA.

Neptune Prime reports that on November 7, 2022, Justice Mary Peter Odilli (rtd) had written a letter to Chief Edozie Njoku, titled: “Chief Edozie Njoku, National Chairman, All Progressives Grand Alliance….Sir, Re: Request For Clarification Letter As Regards To The 9th Of May, 2022 Correction Of Name By Your Lordship On The Supreme Court Appeal NO: SC/CV/687/2021”.

In that letter, Justice Odilli (rtd) recalled a letter dated 6th May, 2022, addressed to her as the Presiding Justice of the Panel and the other four Justices, which requested for correction of the 14th October, 2021, Supreme Court Judgment, wherein the name of Chief Victor Oye was erroneously inserted instead of the name of Chief Edozie Njoku, It’s on record that Justice Odilli (rtd) corrected that mistake by replacing Chief Victor Oye’s name with that of Chief Edozie Njoku on Paragraph 1 of page 13 of the 14th October, 2021 Judgment.

“The correction was made having cognizance that on the day of delivery of the judgment being 14th October, 2021, by a slip of the pen and tongue, the name of Chief Victor Oye was brought in. This error was pointed out to me by other members of the Panel who reminded me that Chief Victor Oye was not a party to the Appeal or the procecdings which emanated from the Jigawa High court. However in the course of the trajectory of errors, the name of Chief Victor Oye kept recurring in the record of the judgment instead of the right party to the proceeding, Chief Edozie Njoku,” Justice Odilli stated.

READ ALSO: INEC Declares NNPP’s Abba Kabir Yusuf winner, Kano Gubernatorial election 

The retired Justice noted that parties in the appeal and judgment of 14th October, 2021 were: Chief Jude Okeke (Appellant), while APGA, Chief Edozie Njoku (National Chairman, APGA for himself and on behalf of the members of the National working Committee (NWC) of APGA elected on 31st May, 2019, Alhaji Rabiu Aliyu, and INEC were respondents.

Following the correction, the jurist expressed hope that the situation would have been “clarified and the matter put to rest”.

On January 19, 2023, the Supreme Court through its Chief Registrar acknowledged and replied a letter by Chief Njoku dated October 7, 2022. In the apex court’s reply titled: “Chief Edozie Njoku, Request for Authentication and Confirmation of the Supreme Court Judgment in suit no. SC/ CV/687/2021, between Chief Jude Okeke and All Progressives Grand Alliance and others, the Chief Registrar advised Njoku to approach the Supreme Court by way of a motion to correct the accidental slip in the judgement delivered on May 9, 2022, by the then Justice Mary Peter Odili (rtd) in suit marked SC/CV/687/21.

Taking a hint from the apex court’s letter, Chief Njoku filed an application wherein he sought the regularization of the amended judgment of Justice Mary Peter Odili (rtd). On March 24, 2023, the accidental slip, which was eventually corrected by the Supreme Court, restored Chief Njoku as the actual National Chairman of APGA, having been wrongfully removed by a Jigawa High Court in suit no: JDU/022/2021 between Alhaji Garba Aliyu and Chief Jude Okeke & 2 Ors.

In a lead judgment, Justice Garba Lawal, held that it was Chief Njoku that was wrongly removed by the Jigawa High Court without being joined as a party. “It is therefore crystal clear that the dispute which gave rise to Appeal Nos. SC/CV/687/2021 and SC/CV/686/2021, was who should be the Acting National Chairman of the 1st Respondent (APGA) and whether the National Chairman, Chief Edozie Njoku, was validly replaced. The suit had absolutely nothing to do with Chief Victor Oye” the Jurist held.

As such, the Supreme Court unanimously held that Njoku’s application was meritorious and graciously granted same as prayed.

Like Justice Lawal stated, it is instructive to note that the suit filed at the Jigawa High Court emanated from the May 31, 2019, APGA Convention held in Owerri. Funny enough, Chief Victor Oye, who laid claim to the National Chairmanship of APGA did not even participate in that Owerri Convention, having held a parallel exercise at Awka, Anambra state.

Flowing from the apex court judgment, two National officers of APGA, Otumba Camaru Ogidan and Alhaji Rabiu Mustapha, approached a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Bwari to enforce the judgement due to INEC’s failure to recognize Chief Njoku.

Aside a restraining interim order, the trial judge, Mohammed Madugu in a judgement on June 6, 2023, ordered INEC and Chief Victor Oye to obey the order of the apex court recognizing Chief Njoku as APGA National Chairman.

“The act(s) of the Respondents refusing to obey and comply with the subsisting judgments of the Supreme Court made on 14th October, 2021 and corrected on the 24th March, 2023 and duly served on them amounts to disobedience of the judgments and orders of the Supreme Court.

“The actions of the 1st Respondent (Oye) posing and parading himself and occupying the.Party’s secretariat as the National Chairman of APGA contrary to the judgment and order of the Supreme Court made on 14th October, 2021 and corrected on the 24th March, 2023 is in disobedience and in clear violation of the judgments of the Supreme Court”.

“An Order of injunction is hereby granted restraining the 2nd Respondent (INEC) whether by itself, agents, privies, assigns, authorized representatives or whosoever described from accepting, recognizing and dealing with the 1st Respondent.

“It is well-established in legal jurisprudence that court orders must be obeyed and respected.

“Parties to litigation are duty-bound to adhere to the directives of the Court. Disobedience of court orders undermines the sanctity of the judiciary and the rule of law. The 1st and 2nd Respondents have committed contempt by disobeying the subsisting order of this court made on May 10, 2023, and I so hold” Justice Madugu said.

However, INEC’s refusal to obey the enforcement order of the FCT High Court in suit marked FCT/HC/CV/4068/2023, prompted another round of litigation as the Njoku-led group filed contempt proceedings against Professor Yakubu and Chief Victor Oye.

In a judgement on November 9, 2023, Justice Madugu held that Professor Yakubu and Oye were in contempt of court as a result of their refusal to obey valid court orders.

However, Oye and INEC appealed, but on June 28, a 3-man panel of the appellate court led by Justice Uchechikwu Onyemenam dismissed the two appeals and entered judgment in favour of the respondents, a development that made INEC to formally recognise Chief Edozie Njoku as the National Chairman of APGA.

Proofreading, editing by Gift Luckson and Hafsat Aleeyu Muye, Journalist and Editor at Neptune Prime.

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