Just in: APC suffers setback in Imo state as court stops party, INEC from holding congresses

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The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, July 30, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), the All Progressives Congress, (APC) and its national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, not to conduct any congress in Imo until August 21. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the court also ordered the plaintiffs, senators Osita Izunaso and Ben Uwajimogu, Mathew Omegara, Hilary Ekeh and Patrick Uzoukwu to maintain status quo until the said date.

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The report said Jutice Babatunde Quadri gave the order following an application by Ahmed Raji (SAN), counsel to the plaintiffs. According to the report, Raji had asked the court to order that all parties be restrained from conducting any primaries in the state, ward or local government until the next adjourned date of the suit.

Raji said that if such an order was not made and the defendants went ahead to conduct the primaries before the next adjourned date, the suit would become an academic exercise. The lawyer told the court that although the defendants were duly served with an order of court stopping them from conducting congresses on July 20, they went ahead to conduct the congresses. He argued that consequently, on July 23, the plaintiffs filed a motion ex parte praying the court to set aside the purported congresses.

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He said they further asked the court for an order of injunction restraining APC and its chairman from recognising and swearing in those purportedly elected at the congresses. “The court, however in its wisdom refused to grant this order and ordered us to put them on notice, and we did and duly served all processes on them but there has been no response from them,” he reportedly said. In his response, counsel to the defendants, Oladipo Okpeseyi (SAN), told the court that he had just been briefed about the matter. According to Okpeseyi, “all I could achieve as at today is to file a memorandum of conditional appearance.”

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Okpeseyi was said to have alluded to the fact that his clients had been unable to file the proper responses owing to the “political maneuvering” they had recently been faced with including the mass defection from the party. “The executive members of the party have not been around so the best we could do is to file a memorandum of conditional appearance. “We want to crave the indulgence of the court to give us more time within which to file our processes,” he said while praying the court for an adjournment to enable him file the necessary processes. The plaintiff’s counsel, however, disagreed with Okpeseyi’s reason for his inability to file his processes saying such reasons were not permissible in law. He said this unusual and unheard-of oral application of the defendant has no basis and should be rejected because the alleged defection he alluded to happened after they were served with processes.

Justice Quadri in a short ruling, ordered all parties in the suit to maintain status quo and not conduct any primaries until the next adjourned date. “All parties are restrained from conducting any primaries in the state, ward or local government until Aug. 21,” he said while awarding a cost of N10,000 against the defendants for not filing their processes within the stipulated time.