• Monday, May 20, 2024
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Appeal Court orders stay of execution of Oshiomhole’s suspension

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The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on Monday ordered a stay of the execution of the suspension order placed on the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole by an Abuja High Court on March 4.

In a unanimous ruling by the 3-man panel of justices of the Appeal Court, led by Justice Abubakar Yahaya, held that the suspension order be lifted until the determination of hearing of the substantive suit.

In an exparte application filed by Oshiomhole, he prayed the court to halt the suspension order on the grounds that there would be no status quo before they came to court, if the appellate court fails to intervene.

His lead lawyer, Wole Olanipekun had informed the Court that there is a National Executive Committee meeting of the APC slated for Tuesday, March 17, wherein the applicant would be excluded going by the suspension order of the lower court.

Olanipekun submitted that the order has already created a state of disorder in the party that could degenerate if the appellate court failed to intervene.

The senior lawyer who noted that time is of essence because of the seriousness of the issue, said that there will be an irredeemable damage if the court does not intervene.

In its ruling, the appellate court held that status quo can only be maintained if the order of the lower court is stayed.

“We have looked at the application and we are of the view that the image of emergency has been painted. There is an information that NEC would hold meeting tomorrow and the applicant will not be there,” Justice Yahaya.

“Justice would not have been served if the applicant is not in that meeting. The status quo can only be maintained if there is a stay.

“We find merit in the application. We hereby order a stay of execution of the lower court made on March 4, 2020, pending the hearing of the notice of appeal slated for Friday, March 20, 2020”, the panel held.

The court in addition ordered all parties in the suit not to take any further steps that would affect the ruling of the court. “We hereby give an order of injunction restraining the respondents or their agents from taking further steps until the determination of the substantive suit.”

The court of Appeal in addition made an order of accelerated hearing in the matter.

Justice Yahaya however, implored politicians to learn to resolve their problems without involving the courts. The court had earlier on Monday adjourned without a new date or any reason for the adjournment.

The appellate court, which announced through one of the registrars that the court will no longer sit in the appeal, did not offer any reason for the sudden change of mind especially when the date had already been slated for hearing of the suit filed by Oshiomhole challenging his suspension as the National Chairman of the party.

The suspended APC chief along with his legal team comprising Damian Dodo (SAN), Wole Olanipekun and sympathisers had stormed the court as early as 8am for the case slated for 9am

However, indications that all will not go well for the suspended APC chief came to light when Justice Stephen Adah and two other justices entered the court and announced that their panel was not billed to hear Oshiomhole’s matter.

Justice Adah, who presided over two other cases, left the court room with information that another panel will soon be around to sit over Oshiomhole’s matter and that if the panel was not ready, parties will be communicated.

Few minutes after Justice Adah’s panel rose, one of the court registrars announced to the anxious lawyers and audience that hearing in Oshiomhole’s case will not proceed.

The registrar said that a new date for the matter will be communicated to parties as soon as it is fixed. She did not give any reason.

Faced with reality, Oshiomhole and his retinue of sympathisers left the court premises one after the other while efforts by journalists to have their reactions were turned down. Oshiomhole, who was before then bubbling with joy and exchanging pleasantries with everybody in sight left the Appeal Court with visible anxiety.

Oshiomhole was suspended on March 4, following an application filed by the deputy chairman of the party (North-East), Mustapha Salihu, and five others through their lawyer, Oluwole Afolabi, in January before Justice Danlami Senchi

In his notice of appeal, Oshiomhole had asked the appellate court to set aside the suspension order slammed on him by an Abuja High Court.

Oshiomhole in the notice of appeal claimed that the judge of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Justice Danlami Senchi, erred in law and arrived at a wrong conclusion which occasioned a miscarriage of justice when the court placed him on suspension at an interlocutory stage of a suit instituted against him by some aggrieved members of the party.

In the notice of appeal predicated on four grounds, Oshiomhole said that the High Court further erred in law when it decided that he in the performance of his duties as APC National Chairman would interfere in the court action filed against him by the aggrieved members.

Respondents in the appeal are; APC National Vice Chairman, North East, Mustapha Saliu, APC Edo State factional Chairman, Anselm Ojezua, Sani Gomna, Oshawo Stephen, Fani Wabulari and Princewill Ejogharado.

Other respondents are the Inspector General of Police and the State Security Service.

In the appeal filed by his counsel, Dodo, Oshiomhole contended that the issue of his performance of duties as APC National Chairman is a matter which arose from substantive issues for determination and claim and ought not to have been determined at the interlocutory stage of the main matter.

Among other grounds in the appeal, the suspended National Chairman claimed that the trial judge erred in law and arrived at a wrong conclusion which occasioned a miscarriage when after ordering the filing of pleadings and immediately set down motion for interlocutory injunction for hearing in the absence of pleadings.

He further faulted the suspension order against him on the grounds that the trial court determined the motion for interlocutory injunction without recourse to triable issues which ought to have been discerned from pleadings.

Justice Danlami Senchi of an Abuja High Court had ordered the former Edo governor to step down as National Chairman of the APC, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit seeking his removal from office as National Chairman of the ruling APC.

Justice Senchi, who gave the order in a ruling on an interlocutory motion, also ordered Oshiomhole to stop parading himself as National Chairman of the APC until the issues challenging his leadership of the party is resolved.

The plaintiffs in the application filed on January 16, 2020 and argued by their lawyer, Oluwole Afolabi, had urged the court to declare Oshiomhole’s continued stay in office illegal having allegedly been suspended from the APC.

Arguing the motion with number: M/4292/2020, Afolabi told the court that Oshiomhole had up till then failed to challenge his suspension from the party.

Afolabi had told the court that Oshiomhole’s rights as a member is currently abated and he cannot continue to act as chairman of the party, adding that Oshiomhole cannot continue to enjoy benefits from the APC, despite his suspension as a member of the party.

The Ward 10 Executives of the APC had late last year suspended Oshiomhole from the APC. The suspension was ratified by the Etsako West Local Government Executive Committee and was subsequently upheld by the State Executive Committee of the Party.

The plaintiffs accordingly prayed the court for an interlocutory order restraining Oshiomhole from parading himself or performing any function as National Chairman of the APC.

Justice Senchi after listening to the submissions of the plaintiffs’ lawyer granted the interlocutory order as prayed and fixed April 7 and 8 for hearing in the substantive suit.