The battle to nullify the tenure extension granted the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, and other national officers by the party’s National Executive Council (NEC) raged in Lagos and Abuja courts yesterday.
The APC’s NEC had, at its February 27 meeting, extended the four-year tenure of the National Working Committee (NWC) due to expire on June 30, 2018, by one year.
In Lagos, a chieftain of APC, Mr. Adewale Hameed, urged Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of a Federal High Court to declare the tenure extension granted Oyegun and all national officers unconstitutional.
In Abuja, four APC members aspiring to run for leadership positions of the party asked the court to halt the implementation of the tenure extension.
At the Lagos court, the hearing of the main suit has been fixed for March 27.
In Hameed’s suit, others joined as co-respondents along Oyegun are: Mr. Segun Oni, Deputy National Chairman (South); Senator Lawal Shaibu, Deputy National Chairman (North); Mr. Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, National Secretary; Mr. Pius Akinyelure, Vice-Chairman (South-West); APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
They were named as the 2nd to 7th respondents in the suit.
The applicant had, on March 9, filed an originating summons, seeking the determination of the court whether the extension of the NEC and NWC elected or appointed members was constitutional or not.
Justice Olatoregun had yesterday, after hearing an ex-parte motion filed by the plaintiff through his lawyer, Mr. Babatunde Fashanu (SAN), granted him leave to sue the 1st to 5th respondents on behalf of all officers of the NEC and the NWC of the APC.
The plaintiff was also granted leave to serve the 1st to 4th and the 6th respondents, the originating motion by leaving it with the front desk officer of the 6th respondent.
The court also directed the applicant to serve all the processes and hearing notices on all respondents.
In the ex-parte motion, the plaintiff is seeking four orders from the court pending the hearing of the substantive suit.
These are: “An order granting him leave to sue the 1st to 5th respondents on behalf of all officers of the NEC and the NWC of the APC.
“An order granting him leave to serve the 1st to 4th and the 6th respondents the originating motion by leaving it with the front desk officer of the 6th respondent.
“An order of interim injunction restraining the 1st to 6th respondents from implementing the purported tenure elongation of the presently elected organs of the APC.
“An order of interim injunction restraining the 7th respondent from recognizing the decision of the 1st to 6th respondents to extend its tenure beyond four years.”
Attached to the motion is an affidavit sworn to by the applicant as a member of the APC, his voter’s card and the party’s Constitution.
In her ruling on the motion, Justice Olatoregun only granted the first two prayers.
In the substantive suit, the plaintiff wants the court to determine if the respondents had the constitutional right under Section 223 of the 1999 Constitution and Articles 13 and 17 of the APC Constitution to extend the tenure of its NEC and NWC members.
However, the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja refused an ex-parte application seeking to stop the extension of the tenure of Oyegun and other officials of the party at the national, state, local government area, and ward levels across the country.
Four APC members aspiring to run for leadership positions of the party had, on March 8, 2018 through their counsel, Ahmed Raji (SAN) approached the court challenging the extension of the tenure of Oyegun and other members of the executive of the party.
The plaintiffs are Ademorin Kuye from Lagos State; Sani Mayanchi from Zamfara State, and currently the Publicity Secretary of the party in the state; Are Mutiu also from Lagos State, and Machu Tokwat from Kaduna State.
One of the plaintiffs, Kuye, claimed to be aspiring to run for the office of the National Legal Adviser of the party, while the rest of the three plaintiffs claimed they were aspiring to run for the offices of the chairman of the party in their respective states – Zamfara, Lagos and Kaduna.
Joined as respondents in the suit are INEC, the APC, Oyegun (sued for himself and on behalf of the national, state, local government area, and ward officials of the APC elected between April and June 2014), and the National Organising Secretary of the party, Osita Isunaso.
The plaintiffs, among other prayers, are asking for orders temporarily halting the implementation of the tenure extension, pending the hearing of the motion for interlocutory injunction.
In a short ruling, the trial judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba refused to stop the extension on ground that it would be improper to grant such prayers without hearing the respondents.
According to him, “The justice of the case is to hear the position of the respondents. Such application cannot be granted in the absence of the respondents. By this, the plaintiffs should put the respondents on notice.
“This case is adjourned till March 28 for hearing of the interlocutory motion.”