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Victor Oye loses at appeal court, as FCT court reserves judgment on motion seeking for Oye & INEC Chairman’s committal to prison

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Justice Mohammed Madugu of High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting in Bwari, has reserved Ruling and Judgment on a preliminary objection seeking the dismissal of a motion seeking to commit Professor Yakubu Mahmood (INEC Chairman) and Chief Victor Oye to prison for disobeying a valid court order. 

The motion marked M/10786/2023, was filed by Micheal Ajara, on behalf of the applicants, Otunba Camaru Lateef Ogidan (National Vice Chairman, South West Geopolitical Zone, APGA) and Mustapha Rabiu (National Welfare Officer), who emerged at the APGA Owerri Convention of May 31, 2019, under the leadership of Chief Edozie Njoku, the National Chairman of APGA.  

In opposing the motion, Victor Agunzi, counsel to Oye (1st respondent) said his objection which came by way of a notice, urged the court to strike out or dismiss the motion for being defective and grossly incompetent, adding that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain same.  

Similarly, he stated; It will amount to judicial impertinence for this court to entertain the motion fully aware that there is a competent leave to stay from the Appeal Court on the Contempt Charges. 

Recall that Agunzi who seem to have been evading service appeared after Mike Ajara secured an order of substituted service on him on October 9, 2023 and served him at the National Secretariat of APGA.  

Agunzi argued that the motion for committal was filed and served before Forms 48 and 49 were served on them. 

Agunzi urged Justice Madugu to recuse himself from hearing the matter, on the strength of a petition before the Chief Judge of High Court of the FCT, accusing the presiding judge of being biased.  

Going forward, Agunzi sought for an indefinite adjournment pending the hearing of an appeal filed by Oye, challenging the May 10, 2023 Order and final judgement of the court, which is the subject matter of the committal proceeding.  

Reacting, Ajara told the court that the C. I. Mbaeri acting on the instruction of Chief Victor Oye had approached the Appeal Court, Abuja on interlocutory appeal on June 8, 2023, seeking for leave to vacate the orders of the court, but lost the applications.   

The Certified True Copy of the decision of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division dated June 8, 2023, in suit CA/ABJ/CV/582/2023 had His Lordships; Hon. Justice E.O Williams-Dawodu, Hon. Justice U. A. Ogakwu, Hon. Justice J. Y. Tukur as panels.  

Unfortunately for Chief Victor Oye and Professor Yakubu Mahmood, the Appeal Court ruled as follows; ‘Order as prayed served application is hereby STRUCK OUT same having been withdrawn. The appeal number is DELETED from the cause list.’  

Apparently, Oye’s loss at the Court of Appeal has made both him and Prof. Yakubu Mahmood – INEC Chairman vulnerable, before the Court.  

Ajara informed the Court that Oye’s lawyer cannot eat his cake and have it; because his client having lost at the Appeal never bothered to appeal at the Supreme Court.  

Ajara submitted that having come by way of a notice of preliminary objection, Agunzi’s affidavit, further affidavit, and all exhibits he filed should be discountenanced. 

On issue of the applicants’ motion being incompetent and defective, Ajara urged the court to look at its record.  

“The 1st Respondent’s lawyer is not allowed to speak from both sides of the mouth. Before this court, he confirmed that they are in receipt of Forms 48 and 49, filed and served on them.  

“This court ordered that they be served through newspaper publication. The 1st Respondent’s lawyer was in court and acknowledged receipt of the Forms. 

“But his argument was that the motion was not legible enough. It was then that the court graciously granted an application for the applicant to serve counsel to the 1st Respondent with the motion” Ajara told the court. 

Ajara informed the Justice Madugu that the Applicant’s counsel served Agunzi with all the processes on the 9th of October despite evading service.  

In addition, Ajara told the court that Agunzi in his letter to the Chief Judge, copiously acknowledged the existence of the processes and even raised issues on them. 

“In his letter of September 8, asking for an adjournment, counsel to the 1st Respondent still raised issues on the processes, Ajara said, stressing that the conduct of the respondent was calculated to over reach the applicant.  

Therefore, Ajara submitted that the motion of the Applicant dated June 13 and filed on the 14th is competent and that due process was followed before they were filed, adding that the court has jurisdiction to hear the motion.  

On the issue that court should recuse itself, Ajara said “As Ministers in the temple of justice, who should preserve the sanctity of the court, I wouldn’t have joined issues with Agunzi, but for the fact that the said letter addressed to the Chief Justice of FCT High Court on July 10, 2023, was copied to us, we also wrote to the CJ to address the issue.

“Agunzi did not state the position of the CJ” and that is why we will not speak more on the issue.  

On the purported appeal and request for an indefinite adjournment, Ajara said it appeared the counsel mixed up issues.  

He explained that the motion for committal was against the Order of court made on 10 May, 2023 and not the judgement of court delivered on June 6, 2023. 

“Immediately, the order of court was made, the 1st respondent appealed, but on June 8, 2023, the appeal was struck out and no other appeal has been made to the Supreme Court.  

Ajara said that aside the May 10 order, the judgement of June 6, “is declaratory which cannot be stayed and that is why the respondent has not filed any application for stay of execution. 

The Court took Agunzi’s preliminary objection and Ajara’s motion for committal charges and reserved ruling and judgment and adjourned to a later date to be communicated to the parties. Evidently, Oye and Prof. Mahmood may be on their way to prison.

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