The Supreme Court on Friday affirmed the sacking of Igo Aguma as the chairman of the caretaker committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State.
The apex court’s decision concurred with the Court of Appeal in Abuja which had sacked Mr Aguma and recognised the Isaac Ogbobula-led caretaker committee as the authentic leadership structure of the party in the state.
It also, like the Court of Appeal, overturned the June 10, 2020 judgment of the Rivers State High Court in Port Harcourt, which installed Mr Aguma as the leader of APC in the state and sacked the Ogbobula-led committee which was constituted by the party’s National Working Committee (NWC).
Mr Aguma had appealed against the December 29, 2020 judgment of the Court of Appeal and urged the apex court to restore the High Court’s judgment.
The appeal was unanimously dismissed by a five-man panel of the apex court led by Amina Augie on Friday.
‘Court lacks jurisdiction’
A member of the panel, Adamu Jauro, who prepared the lead judgment, but which was read on his behalf by Ms Augie, dismissed Mr Aguma’s appeal on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction.
He ruled that with the appeal “afflicted” by jurisdictional issues as the Court of Appeal had similarly ruled the case “has no chance of survival” and “is bound to face the consequence of this by being dismissed”.
He went on to affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeal and set aside the High Court judgment that was favourable to Mr Aguma.
‘Party’s internal affair’
The Supreme Court similarly resolved the issue in three other related appeals, with Ms Augie elaborating in one of them that the court lacked jurisdiction to interfere in the leadership dispute being an internal affair of the party.
She explained that the setting up of the Ogbobula-led caretaker committee by the APC’s NWC was such an internal affair of the party that the court could not interfere in.
Ms Augie said the decision of the party, which she said was a voluntary organisation “like a club”, was binding on every member.
She added that the court could only interfere in such matters “if the party has violated its own rules”.
The suit was a proxy political battle the Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, and former senator, Magnus Abe, for the control of the party in the state.
While Mr Amaechi was in support of the Ogbobula-led caretaker committee favoured by the Supreme Court’s verdict, Mr Abe backed the Aguma-led committee that has now lost out.