Rivers APC: Factional chairman resumes work after conflicting interpretation of A’Court ruling

Florence Uwaeme

Abott Ogbobula and factional Members of the Caretaker Committee of the Rivers State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, have resumed work at the Secretariat of the party at 63 Aba Road, Port Harcourt, following the ruling of the Court of Appeal.

Justice Stephen Adah had led a three-man panel of the court to stay further proceedings of the Rivers High Court judgment which installed Igo Aguma as acting chairman of the party in an appeal filed by Ogbobula.

On July 8, the Appeal Court overruled the objection by Emeka Etiaba, SAN, (lawyer to Aguma) to the competence of the record of appeal compiled by appellant’s lawyer, Tuduru Ede (SAN), a decision Etiaba appealed at the Supreme Court.

At the mention of the case on Thursday last week, Ede faulted court documents served on him by the respondent, informing him about the appeal filed at the Supreme Court, The Nation reports.

Ede argued that the rules of the Court of Appeal do not allow the filling of verifying affidavit of facts. He urged the court to strike out the affidavits filed by the respondents for being incompetent.

Responding, Etiaba argued that “by that affidavit filed on July 15, 2020, we have brought to the notice of the court that we have an appeal for stay of proceedings at the apex court.”

Ruling, Justice Adah held that the court cannot continue with the hearing of the appeal because the first respondent has showed the court that the appeal at the Supreme Court has been entered.

“An affidavit is evidence of proof. The affidavit is showing that an appeal is before the Supreme Court.

“The notice of appeal and other processes have been brought to our notice in respect of the ruling of the court.

“This court cannot continue to go on with this matter since we don’t know the decision of the Supreme Court on the appeal,” Justice Adah said.

He then proceeded to make an order adjourning the hearing of the appeal by Ogbobla indefinitely pending the hearing and determination of the appeal at the Supreme Court.

Justice Adah equally ordered the stay of the execution of the judgment of the High Court of Rivers State.

But Etiaba said the order staying the execution of judgement would be challenged at the Supreme Court on the grounds that there were declarative reliefs granted by the High Court, which could not be stayed.

Ogbonna Nwuke, speaking on behalf statutory members told theportcitynews that by the Court of Appeal’s pronouncement, Aguma cannot act or parade as the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee within the pendency of the matter before it.

“Statutory members of the Rivers APC are happy with the decision of the Court of Appeal. We believe that their Lordships who are presiding over the matter weighed the issue on a judicial scale before issuing the order to stay the execution of the lower Court.

“It gives us hope as true Democrats that there are still people within the judiciary who are impartial, incorruptible, courageous and upright. While salute their Lordships for standing on the side of justice, we commend members of our great party for their patience, prayers and support.

“Accordingly, we urge all right-thinking members of society to ignore whatever may emanate from the desk of Hon. Igo Aguma which he may purport as representing the views or aspirations of the APC in Rivers State.

“We hope that as a man of honour, Hon Igo Aguma would restrain himself from acting outside the dictates of the law. We recall that Aguma has held the APC in contempt and demonstrated gross disrespect for party directives emanating from NEC.

“Finally, we appeal to Rivers people who have faith in the vision and mission of the APC as well as our teeming party supporters spread across the State to remain calm. We want to assure you of our collective resolve to ensure that justice is done”.

However, Igo Aguma who insisted that he is still the acting caretaker committee chairman of the party advised Ogbobula not to impersonate him by parading himself under any guise or circumstance as the Acting Chairman of the party.

Aguma reminded Ogbobula that in Law, he does not exist and he knows the implications of his actions.

Aguma in a statement by his media aide, Livingstone Wechie, further reminded Ogbobula that Justice George Omereji declared in his judgement among others particularly by virtue of orders 4, 5, and 6 that the continuous stay in office of the Caretaker Committee of APC Rivers State by Isaac Ogbobula is unconstitutional.

“An order of this Honourable Court is hereby made setting aside the said appointment and/or inauguration of the Caretaker Committee of Isaac Ogbobula by the All Progressives Congress APC made on or about the 6th day of September 2019.

“On this order, the Court ordered APC, National to within 48 hours constitute a fresh Caretaker Committee incorporating the Claimant Rt. Hon. Igo Aguma as the Chairman and all statutory members of the State Executive Committee as members, failure to which Statutory members shall comprise the Caretaker Committee Chaired by Rt. Hon. Igo Aguma in furtherance to the Constitution of the APC.

“The orders in Paragraph 4 and 5 are declaratory and he as a Lawyer knows cannot be stayed. The order in paragraph 6 has already been executed and confirmed by yet another judgement in the case of Hon Golden Chioma Vs Sen Andrew Uchendu & 4 others in PHC/362/2020. The National Working Committee of the party also wrote to Hon Igo Aguma affirming the judgement of the Court and recognized him as the Acting Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the party in Rivers State.

“By the above-reproduced Orders of the High Court of Rivers State, it is clear that the Orders are declaratory and are not affected by the order of the Court of Appeal for Stay of Execution. A declaratory Order cannot and can never be stayed. In fact the same Court of Appeal ruled that it has lost jurisdiction on the matter since it is validly now pending before the Supreme Court.

“If Isaac Ogbobula being a lawyer knowledgeable on these facts goes ahead to disregard and disobey the judgement of the Court, we are going to commence immediately Contempt proceedings against him because his actions are contemptuous. Ogbobula and his former Caretaker Committee still remain former executives for all purposes.

“Finally, recall that a High Court in Rivers State some days ago in a Suit filed by the Golden Ben Chioma reiterated that Rt. Honourable Igo Aguma is the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of APC in Rivers State”.