Victor Oye justified to hold APGA congress against court order — Counsel; no, he’s going to jail — Njoku
Barrister Victor Agunzi, the Counsel to the former National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Ikechukwu Oye, has insisted that the former APGA leader broke no law for holding a party congresses in Awka, the Anambra State capital.
Barrister Agunzi made the submission while addressing the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court sitting in Bwari, Abuja, on Wednesday, October 18, 2023.
It could be recalled that the FCT High Court 40 presided over by Justice Mohammed Madugu had, on May 10, 2023, restrained Chief Oye from holding any gatherings, meetings, congress or Convention in the name of APGA pending the resolution of the case before the court.
In the said case, two members of the APGA National Working Committee (NWC) under the leadership of the authentic National Chairman, Chief Edozie Njoku, had filed the suit restraining Oye.
The court also ordered Victor Oye to stop parading himself as the National Chairman of the party based on the March 24, 2023, judgement of the Supreme Court, which judgement recognized Chief Njoku as the authentic National Chairman and ordered that Oye’s name be expunged from the records of APGA.
It also stopped the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from recognizing Victor Oye as the National Chairman of APGA based on the said Supreme Court Judgement and warned all parties against indulging in any activities against these orders or face the full consequences of such disobedience.
However, instead of appealing the judgement in a Court of Appeal, Oye tilted to a parallel judgement from the High Court of Anambra State, Otuocha Judicial Division, before Justice H. O. Ozoh on Friday, May 12, 2023.
The judgement with suit no: OT/79/2023, was initiated between Mr. Emeka Ekwealor, Plaintiff, and Dr. Victor Ike Oye who sued for himself and on behalf of the members of APGA NWC, and All Progressives Grand Alliance, Defendants.
The Plaintiff sought, amongst other things, the order of the court to compel the Defendant, acting in his capacity as the National Chairman of APGA, not to extend their term or tenure of office beyond the constitutionally stipulated time limit.
He also asked the court to order Oye “to hold the Wards, Local Government and State Congresses of APGA as well as the National Convention of APGA to elect the Wards, Local Government, State and National Officers respectively… before the expiration of the tenure of the current Officers of 2nd Defendant on 31st of May, 2023″.
Ruling, Justice Ozoh ordered Oye and other National Officers of APGA not to extend their term or tenure of office beyond the constitutionally stipulated time limit.
He noted that Oye and his NWC are bound to hold Wards, Local Government and State Congresses of APGA as well as the National Convention of APGA to elect the Wards, Local Government, State and National Officers respectively before the expiration of their tenure on May 31, 2023.
He said: “I declare that by the combined effect of the provisions of Section 223(1)(a) & (2)(a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As amended), and Article 19(3) of the Constitution of All Progressives Grand Alliance, 2019, the 1st and 2nd Defendants are bound to hold Wards, Local Government and State Congresses of APGA as well as the National Convention of APGA to elect the Wards, Local Government, State and National Officers respectively of the 2nd Defendant before the expiration of the tenure of the current Officers of 2nd Defendant on the 31st of May, 2023.”
He ruled further: “I also make an order of injunction compelling the Defendants to hold the Wards, Local Government and State Congresses of APGA as well as the National Convention of APGA to elect the Wards, Local Government, States and National Officers respectively of the 2nd Defendant before the expiration of the tenure of the current officers of the 2nd Defendant on the 31st of May, 2023.”
Based on the above stated judgement, Victor Oye went ahead and held a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Awka followed by congresses which eventually produced a new leadership for his APGA.
The action was rationalized by Barrister Agunzi, the Counsel to Oye while addressing the court, saying that Oye merely obeyed a later court judgement.
Later, while speaking to News Band after the court reserved judgement in the matter on October 18, 2023, he said the suit seeking Oye’s incarceration in jail will not succeed as Oye did not disobey the Abuja court but merely obeyed a later court order.
However, Barrister Ajara, the counsel to Njoku’s faction, considered the action as a clear defiance of the Federal High Court order that barred him from holding congresses and wasted no time to institute contempt of court proceeding against Oye.
He also instituted contempt of court proceeding against INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, for disobeying the ordered that stopped the Commission from recognizing Victor Oye as the National Chairman of APGA based on the earlier mentioned Supreme Court Judgement.
INEC had, in total and blatant disregard of the Supreme Court, in a press release issued by its National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye Esq., on May 9, insisted that Oye is the APGA National Chairman.
INEC ignored the recent Supreme Court judgement that recognised Edozie Njoku as the authentic APGA National Chairman, insisting rather, that Chief Oye is the party’s National Chairman.
After several months of trial, the motion was finally moved on October 18 following which the judge reserved judgement which he said will be passed in the near future.
Speaking to News band after the court proceeding on Wednesday, Barrister Ajara insisted that Victor Oye and Prof. Yakubu brazenly defied a court order and deliberately disobeyed it.
He expressed optimism that the court will disregard whatever defence they put up, uphold the judgement of the Supreme Court and hold them responsible for violating the court’s order.
Listen to Ajara and his colleague:
On his part, Edozie Njoku maintained that Yakubu and Oye deliberately disobeyed the court order and will have to face the brunt of the law.
Listen to him:
Currently, it’s hands akimbo as the parties anxiously await the court’s verdict.