APGA Crisis: Judge Slams Lawyer For ‘Misleading Court’, Throws Out Suit Seeking INEC’s Recognition Of Njoku As Chairman
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Tuesday, dismissed a suit seeking recognition of Mr. Edozie Njoku as the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Justice J. Omotosho also berated the plaintiffs’ lawyer, C.N Nworgu Esq for misleading the court by misinterpreting the judgments of higher courts which earlier affirmed Dr Victor Oye as the authentic National Chairman of APGA.
Justice J. Omotosho dismissed the suit on Tuesday in an application filed by Chief Chekwas Okorie and two others against the Independent National Electoral Commission, APGA’s presidential candidate, Professor Peter Umeadi, and another.
The plaintiffs had urged the court to hold that the Njoku-led national working committee is valid and all the candidates it shortlisted for the 2023 general election were validly nominated.
Recall that the Supreme Court panel led by Justice Mary Odili had on October 15, 2021, declined jurisdiction in the internal issues of political parties thereby striking out appeals against Victor Oye’s leadership of the party.
The Court of Appeal, Kano, and Abuja had also backed Oye.
Despite the subsisting judgments, Okorie came before the Federal High Court Abuja seeking the validation of his candidacy at the 2023 General Election as well as the validity of the Njoku-led committee that produced him and others.
But on Tuesday, while reading his judgment, Justice Omotosho criticized the applicant’s lawyer, C.N Nworgu for trying to “mislead” the court by claiming that the Supreme Court in its judgment mistakenly put the name of Chief Oye instead of the name of Edozie Njoku as chairman, and made corrections to that effect.
The judge also berated the lawyer for stating through his reliefs, that his brother judge had also recognised the chairmanship status to Njoku.
He held that the lawyer tried to mislead him or misinterpret the decision of the superior courts by bringing in what is not contained in superior judgements.
Addressing the conduct of the plaintiff counsel, the judge said, “He purported to represent the plaintiffs even though he never briefed him. Nworgu Esq tried to mislead this court as to the interpretation of judgment of Supreme Court, Court of Appeal as regards who is the chairman of the party.
“This is not good enough, counsels are ministers in the temple of justice and are expected to conduct themselves in a sincere, honest way and manner and with a high level of decorum.
“And this court frowns at such behavior.”
When the lawyer tried to explain himself in court, the judge interjected saying lawyers should always put facts and have the courage to tell their clients the true position on their case.
“It is unbecoming of a lawyer. Let me say this, the temple of justice is the temple of God. When I die, I am going to give an account of everything I do to God Almighty, so also, all the lawyers,” the judge said.
Justice Omotosho held that the Supreme Court had affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeal Kano and Abuja which backed Oye as APGA National Chairman, contrary to the plaintiffs’ claim.
He added that the superior court’s judgement has not been appealed or set aside.
“It is clear from the above decision of the appellate court that the validly elected chairman of APGA is Victor Oye and not Edozie Njoku as claimed by the plaintiffs.
“There is no evidence that the superior judgments have been set aside.
“Consequently, the Victor-Oye-led working committee is the authentic committee recognized by law by virtue of this judgement.
“This same committee is the one authorized to nominate and forward the names of candidates to INEC.
“The plaintiffs not being nominated or having their names forwarded by Oye cannot be deemed the valid candidates for the various elective positions,” the judge held.
He struck out the plaintiffs’ application for being an abuse of court process.
“Chief Edozie is not recognized as chairman of APGA by this judgment, so lacks the power to forward the name of any candidate to INEC.
“INEC was therefore right to have refused the plaintiff’s request to upload the name of Njoku’s committee’s candidates.
“The plaintiff has no locus standi( legal right) to institute this case having not participated in the Oye-led committee’s vaild primary election.”