APGA Leadership and INEC Macabre Dance

Over the years now, the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has engaged the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Edozie Njoku in a macabre dance in the leadership crisis that has engulfed the party.

Although the Supreme Court has long resolved the leadership crisis in favour of Chief Edozie Njoku, the Independent National Electoral Commission under the leadership of Prof. Yakubu has vowed not to obey the judgment by recognizing Njoku as the authentic National Chairman of the party.

Curiously, while Prof. Yakubu’s INEC had promptly recognized Victor Oye as the APGA National Chairman after the purported suspension of Njoku, the commission is now foot-dragging after the Supreme Court has delivered judgment in favour of Njoku.

To be specific, the Supreme Court has since October 14, 2021, settled the leadership dispute in the party in favour of Njoku.

This was followed by the 24 March 24, 2023, judgment by the apex court which resolved conclusively the APGA leadership dispute in favour of Chief Edozie Njoku as the indisputable chairman of the party whose purported removable as national chairman was declared null and void by the apex court.

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision by a five-man panel of Justices headed by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, admitted that it had in a judgment it delivered in 2021, erroneously written the name of Victor Oye, as chairman of the party.

In the lead ruling that was delivered by Mohammed Lawal, the court said it has powers to review the judgment and correct such “accidental slip or error” when it is brought to its attention.

It, therefore, issued an order, expunging the aspect of the judgment where Mr Oye’s name was reflected as the national chairman of the party.

The decision followed a motion that was brought before the court by Mr. Njoku, who had in an application he filed through his team of lawyers led by Chike Onyemenam, SAN, urged the court to correct a typographical error in judgment, which he said wrongly handed the leadership of the party to Mr Oye.

The applicant noted that the Supreme Court had in a letter it wrote to him on January 19, wherein it addressed him as the national chairman of APGA, asked him to approach it by way of a motion to regularize the judgment.

Relying on Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules, Mr Njoku prayed the court to correct the said error in the lead judgment it delivered on October 14, 2021, in an appeal that was presided over by Mary Peter-Odili (Rtd).

He specifically urged the Supreme Court to correct an accidental slip on Page 13, lines 3 to 4 of its judgment, where instead of writing the name of ‘Edozie Njoku’ who was unlawfully removed from his position as the person that was validly elected as national chairman of APGA at the convention the party held at Owerri in 2019, mistakenly inserted the name of Victor Oye, who was not a party in the substantive suit that gave rise to the appeal.

Supreme Court writes INEC.

Despite the above judgment by the apex court, INEC was still in disobedience compelling the apex court to write to the commission to act on its judgment that recognized Chief Edozie Njoku as the National Chairman of APGA.

The apex court, through its Registrar, Litigation, Zainab Garba, forwarded the Certified True Copy, CTC, of its judgement on the APGA leadership tussle between Njoku and Chief Victor Oye, to the electoral body.

The proof of service of the judgment dated April 5, 2023, which was in respect of an appeal marked SC/CV/687/2021, between Chief Jude Okeke versus APGA & others, was received at 3:54 pm on the same day by the Litigation and Prosecution Department of INEC.

A copy of the document read: “I forward herewith for your information and necessary action, the order under the hand of the Honourable, the Chief Justice of Nigeria/Presiding Judge, and the seal of the Court in respect of the above appeal.

“I also enclose herewith a certified copy of the order and the judgment of the Court.”

Yet, the electoral body and its leadership ignored the judgment of the highest court of the land!

INEC Response

Rather than obey the judgment of the Supreme Court, INEC in a statement on May 10, 2023, accused the Edozie Njoku-led faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) of engaging in cheap blackmail against the commission aimed at hoodwinking those not abreast of the details of the leadership tussle in the party. 

In a statement by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education, Mr. Festus Okoye, the commission explained that the Njoku-led faction had accused it of refusal to obey the judgment of the Supreme Court purportedly recognizing one Chief Edozie Njoku “as the authentic National Chairman of APGA”.

Okoye said the commission is a law-abiding institution and would continue to give effect to the decisions, judgments, and orders of the various courts in Nigeria.

It, however, argued that Chief Edozie Njoku was not a party to the suit which started from the Jigawa State High Court, initiated by one Alhaji Rabiu Garba Aliyu against Chief Jude Okeke and three others, in suit No: JDU/022/2021, which judgment was entered in favour of the said Alhaji Rabiu Garba Aliyu.

But what INEC and Okoye refused to know is the fact that the October 14, 2021 judgment of the Supreme Court was to the effect that parties should maintain the status quo before the suit filed by Garba Aliyu.

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