The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Monday halted the suspension of Adams Oshiomhole as the chairman of the All Progressives Congress(APC)
Justice Danlami Senchi of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court had on March 4, ordered the suspension of Mr Oshiomhole, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit seeking his removal from office as National Chairman of the APC.
The FCT high court order followed an application filed by the deputy chairman of the party (North-east), Mustapha Salihu, and five others through their lawyer, Oluwole Afolabi, in January.
The applicant’s interlocutory injunction application challenged Mr Oshiomhole’s continued right to parade himself as the party’s national chairman after his initial suspension by his primary ward in Edo State.
The tussle has created factions within the ruling party in the state and continues to threaten the party’s unity at the national level.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how some party leaders criticised Mr Oshiomhole’s leadership style, blaming it for the APC’s defeat in some states during the last general elections.
Hours after the suspension, the APC announced three new members of its National Working Committee, including Waziri Bulama as new acting national secretary, a move condemned by some leaders of the party.
A federal court in Kano later gave a different order that Mr Oshiomhole should continue in office.
Amidst the controversy, the assistant national secretary of the party, Victor Gaidom, circulated a statement announcing a National Executive Council (NEC) meeting on March 17.
But a counter-statement issued by some top officials of the APC enjoined party members to ignore Mr Gaidom saying his action fell outside the party’s constitution and jurisdiction.
The statement was jointly signed by Lanre Issa-Onilu, the party spokesperson; Babatunde Ogala, the national legal adviser; and Mr Bulama.
Mr Gaidom, however, continued to insist he was the next in line in the party hierarchy following Mr Oshiomhole’s suspension and the absence of a substantive national secretary. The party’s former national secretary is now the governor of Yobe State.
Last Wednesday, a high court in Abuja restrained party members – specifically Messrs Issa-Onilu, Ogala, and Bulama – from disrupting Tuesday’s NEC meeting.
However, a court in Lagos, Thursday, ruled that a NEC meeting of the APC cannot hold except the trio of Mr Bulama, Abiola Ajimobi, and Paul Chukwuma are in attendance. The three were the appointments announced after Mr Oshiomhole’s suspension as acting national secretary, acting deputy national chairman and acting national auditor respectively.
Appeal Court ruling
Meanwhile, at the resumed hearing of the matter at 4 p.m., the former Edo governor’s lawyer, Wole Olanipekun, urged the court to grant a motion ex parte staying the order of the lower court.
Mr Olanipekun said “time is of the essence” and the matter should not be left until tomorrow because “between now and tomorrow is like eternity.”
In its unanimous ruling on Monday, the three-member panel led by Abubakar Yahaya held that: “we are of the view that an emergency picture has been painted so that intervention by this court at this time and in this process (is) granted.
“There is the information that a national executive meeting of the 2nd applicant is to be held tomorrow and following the ruling of the FCT high court under the situation, the first applicant would not be able to attend if this happens, then there is no chance that any status quo would be maintained.
“The status quo can only be maintained in the circumstance if there is a stay of execution of the FCT high court judgment.
A stay of execution is a court order to temporarily suspend the execution of a court judgment.
“In this vein, therefore, we find merit in this application.
“We hereby order stay of execution on the ruling of the FCT high court in suit number: FCT/HC/CV/837/2020 delivered in the 4th of March 2020 pending the determination of the motion on notice which is now slated for hearing on Thursday the 19th of March 2020. We also hereby give an order of injunction restricting the respondents in the suit, their agents, their privies and all officers jointly or severally from proceeding to take any other steps to give effect to the said ruling pending the determination of the motion on notice,” the court ruled.
The order means Mr Oshiomhole continues in office a APC chairman, at least until March 20.
The NEC meeting has, however, been postponed after governors of the APC met with President Muhammadu Buhari.
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