John Alechenu, Ade Adesomoju, Oladimeji Ramon and Abiodun Nejo
There was uncertainty on Thursday over the All Progressives Congress National Executive Committee meeting scheduled to hold on Tuesday as multiple lawsuits and injunctions worsened the crisis in the party.
On Thursday, the Federal High Court in Lagos ordered that the NEC meeting must not hold except a former Oyo State governor, Abiola Ajimobi; Waziri Bulama and Paul Chukwuma, were allowed to attend.
This is just as another Federal High Court in Ekiti fixed March 23, 2020 for hearing in a suit challenging the appointment of Ajimobi as the Deputy National Chairman (South) of the APC.
Also on the contentious NEC meeting and the suspension of the party’s National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, the Court of Appeal in Abuja will on Monday hear the appeal filed by Oshiomhole to challenge his suspension by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Jabi, Abuja, on March 4.
But in Lagos on Thursday, the Federal High Court in a ruling by Justice Mohammed Liman, restrained the APC and its officials from “disturbing, preventing or obstructing Bulama, Ajimobi and Chukwuma from carrying out their duties as acting national secretary, acting national deputy chairman (South) and acting national auditor of the APC, respectively.”
Justice Liman’s orders followed an ex parte application filed by the Lagos State Chairman of the APC, Tunde Balogun, which was argued by his lawyer, Gani Bello.
Balogun, who is a professed loyalist of the APC stalwart, Bola Tinubu, prayed the court to compel the APC to recognise Bulama as the party’s acting National Secretary; Ajimobi, as the acting National Deputy Chairman (South); and Chukwuma, as the acting National Auditor of the party.
He told the court that after the three offices became vacant and were zoned to different geopolitical zones, Bulama was nominated by the North-East; Ajimobi, by the South-West; and Chukwuma, by the South-East.
Balogun said the nomination of Bulama was ratified at the meeting of the APC National Working Committee held on January 14, 2020; while those of Ajimobi and Chukwuma were ratified at the NWC meeting of March 4, 2020.
He stated, “By virtue of the ratification stated above, the nominees have become members of the National Executive Council and are entitled by the constitution of the defendant (APC) to work and operate in acting capacities in their respective offices pending their swearing-in at the National Convention of the party.
“In spite of the foregoing, the defendant (APC), acting through its officials and officers, particularly, the Deputy National Secretary, has not allowed the nominees to perform their duties as members of the National Executive Council,” Balogun said.
Balogun prayed the court to compel the APC to recognise them.
After listening to the applicant’s lawyer, Justice Liman granted the prayers and adjourned till March 25, 2020 to take the Motion on Notice.
Anti-Ajimobi suit in Ado Ekiti
Meanwhile, a Federal High Court sitting in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, on Thursday adjourned hearing in a suit challenging the appointment of Ajimobi.
Justice U. N. Agoma, in her brief ruling after listening to counsel, adjourned the case till March 23 for hearing of the pending applications.
The applicant, Mr Michael Akinleye, who is the APC Chairman in Ado Ekiti Local Government Area, is in the suit with number FHC/AD/C8/8/2020, challenging the propriety of Ajimobi’s appointment by the APC NWC through alleged imposition. Akinleye is also APC deputy chairmanship aspirant.
The position became vacant following the appointment of the immediate past occupant, Chief Niyi Adebayo, as Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment.
Consequently, the Ekiti APC is of the opinion that its nominee for the position, Senator Gbenga Aluko, should be allowed to fill the vacancy in respect of the party’s ‘micro-zoning’.
Joined in the suit are APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole (1st respondent); National Working Committee (2nd respondent), National Vice Chairman, South-West (3rd respondent), APC South-West Zonal Caucus (4th respondent), Ekiti State Chairman of APC (5th respondent), Ekiti State Caucus of APC (6th), APC (7th respondent) and Senator Ajimobi (8th respondent).
In the originating summons filed by his lawyer, Taiwo Omidoyin, the applicant sought an interlocutory order stopping the party from either announcing or appointing Ajimobi pending the determination of the suit.
Akinleye, who urged the court to restrain Ajimobi from parading himself as the Deputy National Chairman, also asked the court to determine whether his rights had not been abridged as an aspirant looking up to election as the Deputy National Chairman before Ajimobi was suddenly imposed.
But a preliminary objection filed by Chief Tony Adeniyi, who is representing all the respondents with the exemption of 5th and 6th respondents, contended that the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear the matter and that the suit be dismissed on this premise.
Appeal Court hears Oshiomhole’s appeal against suspension
The Court of Appeal in Abuja will on Monday hear the appeal filed by Oshiomhole to challenge his suspension.
Justice Danlami Senchi of the FCT High Court had issued the interlocutory injunction on the grounds that the party wrongfully continued to retain Oshiomhole as its National Chairman while he was under suspension as a member of the party in his ward branch of the party in Edo State.