A High Court sitting in Enugu today asked Chief Victor Umeh to stop parading himself as the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Allinace (APGA).
Presiding Judge, Justice Innocent Umezulike said “his tenure actively ended on December 2, 2010.”
The judgment followed a case filed by a former Udi local council chairman of the party, Jude Okuli, praying the court to determine among other issues whether by virtue of the proper interpretation of section 18: 2, 3, 4 and 5 of APGA constitution, the defendant, Umeh, should remain the national chairman after four years in office without re-election.
Coming by way of originating summons, the petitioner invited the court to declare that the continued stay in office by Umeh as the national chairman after four years without a valid convention announced by the national executive committee of the party is illegal, void and ultra vires.
Delivering the judgment which was temporarily remanded due to Umeh’s interlocutory appeal, Justice Umezulike rebuffed the objections of the defendant’s counsel, Mr. Patrick Ikwueto (SAN) that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the matter and that the petitioner, Jude Okuli, lacked locus standi to institute the matter having been expelled from the party for violence and anti-party activities.
The court also rejected the defendant’s argument that the non-joinder of APGA renders the suit defective as well as the claim that having earlier instituted a similar action in court, “the instant case amounts to an abuse of judicial processes.”
Justice Umezulike, sparing ample time to dissect the issues formulated for determination, held that the court should not retreat in terror at the mere mention of domestic business of a political party.
He said, “Unless a political party conducts its business in strict observance of the rule of law, the court can be invited to interpret the law which is its exclusive business as in the instant case.”
He, therefore, ruled that the defendant’s occupation of the office of national chairman of APGA is contravention of the party’s constitution, insisting that the question as to whether he ought to resign at least two months prior to the national convention for a re-election becomes academic.
Neither Umeh nor his counsel was present in court, but reacting to the judgment, the plaintiff, Jude Okuli said the judgment was a sound one explaining that it was a victory for APGA since according to him, “the party would begin to experience new lease of freedom and reorganisation.”
Also the Special Adviser to Governor Peter Obi on Markets and Parks, Elder Sylvester Nwobu-Alor, said the judgment has opened the door effectively for the restructuring of APGA.
Nwobu-Alor added, “It would amount to “tomfoolery” for any party to appeal the verdict.”