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APGA crisis: Abuja court issuing bench warrant on Njoku is judicial abomination ~ Chekwas Okorie

Reaction of the founder of APGA, Chief Chekwas Okorie, to the ruling of the FCT high court issuing bench warrant on APGA National Chairman, Chief Edozie Njoku on Monday at Abuja

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Today I have decided to draw the attention of Nigerians to a judicial abomination, a criminal rascality and great travesty being perpetrated through a conspiracy by some staffers of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, some officers of the Police and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

So great is this travesty that a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Hon. Justice Mary Ukaego Peter-Odili came out of retirement to respond to a letter seeking the affirmation of a judgment given by a Panel she chaired.

The tragedy is that not one lawyer; senior or junior, has protested the rubbishing of the Supreme Court nor the persecution of an innocent man.

The deafening silence of the Nigerian Bar Association, the Nigerian Labour Congress, the Nigerian Union of Journalists, and Civil Society Organisations is a tacit endorsement of the judicial rascality of Victor Oye, the powerful individuals who are sponsoring him and his Co-conspirators ensconced in the very institutions that are supposed to nurture and protect our nascent democracy.

The Supreme Court of Nigeria
The Supreme Court of Nigeria

I am talking about the APGA leadership crisis which is now in the eighteenth year of the twenty-year-old party.

My travails are well known and documented. Today is not the day to recount my ordeal. However, I draw your attention to this particular episode that portends a clear and present danger to the 2023 elections.

On May 31, 2019 in Owerri APGA elected its National Working Committee NWC at its National Convention. Edozie Njoku was elected the national chairman. Victor Oye held a parallel Convention in Awka on the same day.

Weeks later, Jude Okeke rushed to Jigawa state and sued Edozie Njoku claiming the NWC had suspended him. He asked the Jigawa High Court to recognise him as the acting chairman. The court granted his wishes. INEC immediately recognised Jude Okeke as chairman of APGA.

The matter was appealed to the Kano division of the Appeal Court. Edozie Njoku sought to join the matter but he was refused joinder. Yet, on page 78 of its judgment the Appeal court ruled that Njoku ought to have been joined. The Appeal Court ruled that removal of a party chairman is an internal affair of the party and therefore not justiceable.

Jude Okeke appealed to the Supreme Court. Edozie Njoku also appealed to the apex Court. The Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the Appeal Court saying that the removal of a party chairman was not justiceable. On October 14th, 2021 the apex Court affirmed that the current leadership of APGA emanated from the Owerri convention of May 31, 2019.

The Court in error stated that Victor Oye was the chairman who was removed by the Jigawa High Court.

On May 6th, 2022, Edozie Njoku wrote a letter to the chairman of the Supreme Court panel that heard the APGA leadership appeal, Justice Mary Ukaego Peter-Odili pointing out the error and asking for a correction.

On May 9th, 2022, the Supreme Court panel made the correction and replaced Oye’s name with Edozie Njoku.

Edozie Njoku served INEC with the corrected judgment. INEC neither acknowledged nor responded to Edozie’s letter. All entreaties to the INEC chairman to recognise Edozie Njoku as the authentic chairman of APGA were rebuffed.

Former National Chairman of APGA, Ozo Victor Oye
Ex-national chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Ozo Victor Ike Oye

Victor Oye held a press conference and announced to the whole world that Edozie Njoku forged the corrected judgment. He petitioned the Nigerian Police Force and other security agencies claiming Edozie Njoku had forged a Supreme Court judgement.

On July 15th, Justice Kekere-Okun, who took over from Justice Odili as the chairman of the panel issued an enrollment order to Edozie Njoku. The Supreme Court had earlier issued certified true copies (CTC) of the May 9th correction to Edozie Njoku and other interested parties.

Sometime in August, Oye, instead of vacating office of chairman of APGA went full steam in compromising the Police, INEC and the Supreme Court. The police invited Edozie and some members of the NWC to respond to allegations of forgery made against them by Victor Oye.

INEC refused to acknowledge Edozie Njoku as chairman. The chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu privately told some people that he was unaware of any correction by the Supreme Court despite being served the corrected judgment and the enrolled order by a Supreme Court bailiff.

While the Justices of the Supreme Court were on recess, the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court wrote a letter to the Police disowning the corrected judgment. The chief Registrar also wrote to INEC making the same claims that the Supreme Court judgement is a forgery.  She hand-delivered her letter to the INEC chairman.

The Director of Litigation, Abubakar Dikko, certified the judgment of October 14th, 2021 which was corrected on May 9th, 2022 in August 2022. Dr. Festus Akande, the Director of Press issued a press release setting aside the corrected judgment of the Court. All these happened in the absence of the Supreme Court Justices.

CSP Ezekiel Rimasonte was one of the police officers tasked with investigating Victor Oye’s allegations against Edozie Njoku was making utterances that exposed his bias. On October 13th, Edozie Njoku wrote a petition to the Inspector General of Police informing him of Mr. Rimasonte’s unprofessional conduct. He was immediately reassigned and the case handed to DCP Simon Lough, SAN, to investigate.

Chief Chekwa Okorie
The author, Chief Chekwa Okorie

Curiously 8 days after, on October 21st, Rimasonte filed criminal charges against Edozie Njoku and Chukwuemeka Nwoga at the FCT High Court.

Justice Mary Ukaego Peter-Odili on November 7th, responded to Edozie Njoku’s letter reaffirming the judgment of her panel and gave reasons for the correction.

Victor Oye called the letter from the retired jurist a forgery and cast aspersions on the unblemished character of Justice Mary Ukaego Peter-Odili.

Fellow Nigerians, your continued silence in the face of this travesty of justice and persecution of innocent people may be the deafening bang that will truncate the 2023 general elections.

“No one is above the law” is a generally accepted truism in a democracy like ours. Disparaging and denigrating the Supreme Court is tantamount to a judicial abomination.

And if everyone keeps quiet and allow it to happen with no reactions from the Judiciary, the Attorney General of the Federation, men and women of goodwill and even civil society organisations it amounts to watering the grounds for chaos.

It may eventually consume all of us.

I, therefore, call on all men and women of conscience to rise up and confront this judicial abomination, the dangerous and criminal rascality of some powerful individuals led by Victor Oye and his sponsor Prof. Chukwuma Soludo. Read more.

Chief Chekwas Okorie
Oje Ozi Ndigbo, Founder/Founding/chairman of APGA/presidential candidate 2023 elections

 

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