By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court Abuja, will on May 14, deliver judgment in the suit seeking to vacate the one-year tenure extension that was granted to National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and other members of the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party.
On February 27, 2018, the National Executive Council of the APC had at the end of its meeting, extended by one year, the four-year tenure of the party officials due to expire on June 30.
This decision didn’t go down well with four aggrieved members of the party- 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, who maintained that the action of the APC NEC was illegal.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/237/2018, the Plaintiffs urged the court to compel to vacate their positions at the expiration of their current tenure, all officials of the party at the National, State, Local Government Area, and Ward level across the country.
Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, APC, Chief Odigie-Oyegun and the National Organising Secretary of the party, Senator Osita Izunaso are defendants in the matter.
When the matter came up for adoption of the final brief of arguments by the parties in the matter, counsel to the first set of Plaintiffs, Mr. Ahmed Raji, SAN, said there was need for the court to interprete whether any organ of the APC could extend constitutionally fixed tenure of the party executives.
“My lord we want the court to intervene in this matter, if not the president will sit down in this country one day and say Governors, though your tenure has expired, continue in acting capacity.
“To allow the extension will amount to standing the law on its head. We urge the court to avoid any interpretation that will render section 223 of the constitution useless.
“The President has already taken side by saying that the extension was illegal. But the highest organ of the party wants to overrule the president”, Raji added.
In a preliminary objections, other defendants aside INEC, is asking the court to hands-off or dismiss the suit for want of jurisdiction.
Adopting his final addresses, counsel to APC, Mr. J. B. Daudu, SAN, maintained that the case was a domestic affair of the party, saying the plaintiffs did not exhaust internal dispute resolution mechanism in the party before rushing to court.
In his submissions, counsel to Chief Odigie-Oyegun, Chief Akinolu Olujumi, SAN, said that there was no resolution on February 27 showing that tenure of any of the officials of the party was extended.
This was even as the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, said it would remain neutral in the matter.
INEC through its lawyer, Mr. Idris Yakubu, said it would remain neutral in the matter, adding that the commission will abide by the decision of the court.