UPHOLDS LEADERSHIP OF APGA UNDER OZONKPU DR VICTOR IKE OYE AS WELL AS THE CANDIDACY OF PROF CHARLES CHUKWUMA SOLUDO
By Ononye VC
A Special Panel of the Court of Appeal presided over by His Lordship, Hon Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem (President of the Court of Appeal) has dismissed the appeal filed by the duo of Chief Edozie Njoku and Hon Chinedum Benedict Okoro against the judgment of Hon Justice C C Okaa delivered on the 19th of July, 2021.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, in a unanimous judgement delivered today the 9th of September, 2021, held that the appeal constitutes an abuse of court process and equally lacking in merit.
Recall that His Lordship, Hon Justice C C Okaa had delivered a landmark judgement on the 19th of July, 2021 upholding the leadership of APGA under Ozonkpu Dr Victor Oye. The High court judge held that the National Officers of APGA elected at the National Convention of APGA held in Awka in 2019 are still validly in office and thus entitled to perform the functions and duties of their office in the nomination of candidates for various elective offices on behalf of APGA.
The Court further held that Chief Edozie Njoku and his cohorts (including the so called Jude Okeke who purports to have supplanted Chief Edozie Njoku) are not National officers of APGA and cannot lawfully perform the functions of that office.
Concluding, Hon Justice
Okaa went on to grant the consequential relief in favour of the duly nominated candidate of APGA, Prof Charles Chukwuma Soludo and thus ordered INEC to list him as the duly nominated candidate of APGA for the Anambra State Governorship election.
Dissatisfied with the judgment of the court, Chief Edozie Njoku and Hon Chinedum Benedict Okoro appealed against the judgment to the Court of Appeal vide Appeal No. CA/AWK/256/2021: CHIEF EDOZIE NJOKU & ANOR VS BARR SYLVESTER SLY EZEOKENWA & ORS praying the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment of the lower court.
However, while delivering judgment in the appeal, His Lordship, Hon Justice Jummai Sankey (who read the leading judgement) held that they are bound by the earlier judgement of the Kano Division of the Court of Appeal which had earlier determined the leadership tussle of APGA in favour of the Ozonkpu Dr Victor Oye led executives.
The erudite jurist queried the appellants for having the audacity and temerity to invite the Court of Appeal to sit on appeal over its own judgment.
The visibly angry Justice Sankey stated emphatically that by the doctrine of Stare Decisis, the Court of Appeal is bound by its earlier judgement and cannot possibly sit on appeal over same.
The learned Justice of the Court of Appeal further held that the pronouncement and findings made by the Court of Appeal Kano Division in favour of the Ozonkpu Dr Victor Oye led leadership of APGA constitutes issue estoppel and same binds the whole world.
The Court awarded a punitive cost of 10 million naira against Chief Edozie Njoku and in favour of Barr Sly Ezeokenwa and APGA.
In her contribution, the President of the Court of Appeal, Hon Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem issued a stern warning to the counsel for Chief Edozie Njoku and other legal practitioners to forthwith desist from desecration of the temple of justice by engaging in needless forum shopping that tends to bring the image of the judiciary to ridicule.
Hon Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem stated that only the Supreme Court is imbued with the powers to entertain appeals against the judgment of the Court of Appeal and advised parties who are genuinely aggrieved to channel their grievances to the apex court.
The latest judgment of the Court of Appeal has further vindicated His Lordship, Hon Justice C C Okaa as the Special Panel of the Court of Appeal has affirmed the judgement of Justice Okaa as sound, valid and subsisting.
Accolades have continued to pour in for Justice Okaa for his steadfastness in upholding the correct leadership of APGA elected at the National Convention of 31st May, 2019 which said National Convention was duly monitored by INEC and relevant security agencies.