The Appeal Court returned Victor Umeh as chairman.
Less than 12 hours after a convention of the All Progressive Grand Alliance produced Maxi Okwu as National Chairman, an Appeal Court in Enugu has given an order that the ousted chairman, Victor Umeh, remain in office pending the determination of his appeal.
The Court of Appeal ordered a stay of execution of the judgement by the Enugu High Court, restraining Mr. Umeh from parading himself as the National Chairman of APGA.
Ruling on a motion for stay of execution, Justice Paul Galinje said the trial court had no jurisdiction to determine the matter, noting that the restraining order was stayed pending the determination of the appeal in the higher court.
Mr. Galinje, who is the Chairman of the three-man panel, explained that the court exercised the responsibility to protect the rights of the appellant by ensuring that he did not suffer damages while his appeal was still before it.
“The judgement by the trial court, restraining the appellant from parading himself as the national chairman of APGA cannot hold because the appellant contested the jurisdiction of the trial court.
“The Court of Appeal has the responsibility to protect the rights of the applicant to ensure he does not suffer damages while his appeal is still before the court.
“The restraining order by the Enugu High Court is hereby stayed, pending the determination of the substantive appeal before the court,’’ he said.
By Monday’s ruling, Mr. Umeh, who was sacked by an Enugu High Court in February, can still lay claim to the INEC chairmanship.
Earlier in his argument, the counsel to the respondent, Arthur Okafor, presented a motion before the court praying it to stand down ruling on the matter.
He said that his client was yet to be served a copy of the application filed by the appellant to stay the execution.
The counsel to the appellant, Patrick Ikwueto, explained that the order of the court had restored Mr. Umeh as the national chairman of APGA.
Reacting, Mr. Umeh expressed happiness, saying that the victory was for APGA, adding that it had reinforced his confidence in the Nigerian judiciary.
“We thank the judiciary. The Nigerian judiciary has protected me and APGA. Justice is something that is delivered with courage, the court respected our arguments. We are very happy.
“From this court, we are moving to Nnewi to Ojukwu’s house. I am going to pay respect to his grave and I will tell him that the party he handed over to me and my colleagues is still alive. Nobody can destroy APGA, we are still in charge,’’ he said.
On the party’s national convention already conducted, Mr. Umeh said a copy of the order by the Appeal Court would be served on INEC to take the necessary steps.
The convention held on Sunday night and Monday in Anambra produced Mr. Okwu as National Chairman.
APGA is one of Nigeria’s largest political parties having two state governors and many state and federal legislators.
Apart from Mr. Okwu and Mr. Umeh’s factions of the party, a third faction, led by Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, is set to merge with three other parties to form the All Progressives Congress.
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