By Monday Onyekachi Ubani
THE All Progressive Congress, APC, as a party was recently jolted when a Federal Capital Territory High court made a pronouncement that Chief Ikechi Emenike is the gubernatorial candidate of APC in Abia State. This judgement came as a result of a legal suit initiated by Chief Emenike in Abuja High Court against APC after the Direct primary election that was conducted by the National Working Committee in which Dr Uche Sampson Ogah emerged as the party’s governorship candidate for Abia State. It is reported that Emenike based his claims upon an interim order granted by Osisioma High Court in Abia State sometime early last year in which the then chairmanship candidate of APC for the State, Chief Fabian Okonkwo and others sued the then Donatus Nwankpa led Exco. Note that this Exco emerged under Dr John Oyegun’s administration as the National Chairman of the party before His Excellency, Adams Oshiomhole took over as the new Chairman under a new Congress. The implication of that order is that it is made against an Exco whose tenure has elapsed as a new Congress was held in which Donatus Nwankpa emerged as the new State Chairman with other members who are now in power. What makes that interim or interlocutory order of the Osiosioma High Court very “interesting” is that it was made when no personal service was effected on the defendants to the suit and the proof of service in the court’s file was to the effect that a clerk in the APC Secretariat purportedly received the court process on their behalf. That was a fundamental defect as several Supreme Court authorities have laid down the principle that service of court process on human beings must either be personal or by substituted means which was not the case in that service. There is an appeal against that purported order and a motion to set aside the order for several reasons including for lack of service which is very fundamental in every legal suit. Remember that I stated above that Donatus Nwankpa led Exco emerged afresh under a new Congress that brought Adams Oshiomhole’s administration as the new chairman of the party into existence. Presently, Donatus Nwankpa is known and recognized as the State Chairman of the APC in Abia State as at today and no known court order has invalidated that position since the earlier interlocutory order was with respect to the old Exco whose tenure has expired.
Nwankpa has a good case against that ruling for the following reasons:
(a) There was no proof of personal or substituted service on him and his Exco members before the court went ahead to hear the case.
(b) The Defendants were not allowed to file any counter affidavit since they were not served and so the interlocutory order was not made on its merit but as an exparte order sort of.
(c) He has filed a motion to set the ruling aside and also to set aside the service of the court process as improper as no service was effected on him known to law.
(d) He has appealed to the Court of Appeal against the interlocutory order for all the reasons stated above which are germane and genuine.
(e) He has almost one hundred per cent chance of success with his appeal against that purported order for the reasons as stated above.
Assuming but not conceding that that purported order will have any effect on Nwakpa’s tenure as the rightful Exco of APC in Abia State for the following reasons:
- The Primary Election of Abia State was conducted as direct primary.
- The Direct Primary was issued as part of the Electoral Guideline of APC to Abia State.
- The Direct Primary was not conducted by the State Exco of Abia State.
- The Direct Primary was conducted by Electoral Committee led by David Iyoha (Former Edo State Speaker) put together by the National Working Committee led by ex-governor Adams Oshiomhole.
- Ikechi Emenike’s election was allegedly conducted by Emmanuel Ndukwe’s led Exco contrary to the Electoral Guidelines of the ruling party APC. One Professor Okezie Abarikwu not appointed by the National Working Committee but by the Ndukwe led Exco purportedly conducted and announced Chief Emenike as the winner of their own primaries. That election was never monitored by INEC and no report was produced that they monitored the purported primaries of Emmanuel Ndukwe Exco.
- Emmanuel Ndukwe is neither known nor recognized by the APC as the State Chairman of APC in Abia State as he never contested for that position under the new congress that brought in Nwankpa led State Exco.
- Since Uche Ogah’s emergence as the gubernatorial candidate of APC in ABIA State was through direct primaries organized by the National Working Committee of APC and monitored by INEC and the report of INEC produced to that effect, His election will never and can never never be affected by the legal squabble between Nwankpa and Emmanuel Ndukwe whether now or in the future.
- For the records, Emenike a perennial litigant against all the political parties he joined, took PDP to court while he was their member wherein he asked the Court to declare him the gubernatorial CANDIDATE of the party which he contested with T. A. Orji in 2011. It was an election in which in his usual manner he had railroad the State Exco of the party to conduct. The Supreme Court in Chief Ikechi Emenike Vs PDP held that the State Exco lacked the power in law to conduct the primary election that determined the flagbearer of the party and Chief Emenike as the Claimant before the trial court lacked the locus standi to challenge the emergence of T.A.Orji as the candidate of PDP for the 2011 gubernatorial election since he Emenike did not participate in the valid primaries of PDP conducted by the NEC of the Party vide an Electoral Committee that produced T.A. Orji. Please note that Chief Emenike just like the present case in Abuja had sought to be declared the gubernatorial CANDIDATE of PDP having allegedly emerged in the Party’s primaries conducted by the then State Exco. The Supreme Court in several cases before and after that upheld the view that only candidates who participated in the primary election conducted by the NEC of the PDP possesed the locus to challenge such an election. The implication for Chief Emenike in the present suit in Abuja is that he lacks the locus to challenge the outcome of the primary election conducted by the National Working Committee of APC as he has already claimed to have emerged the winner in an earlier primary election conducted by “Emmanue Ndukwe led Exco”(not a recognized Exco) of APC in Abia State.
Concerning the judgement of Emenike in the FCT High court, APC has filed an appeal against it on several tested grounds one of which is denial of fair hearing. They have filed a motion for stay against the judgement, so also has Ogah filed an appeal against the said judgement as he was denied being joined as party to the suit. In addition to this, he Dr Uche Ogah OON has obtained an order of the Federal High Court restraining Chief Emenike from parading himself as the gubernatorial candidate of APC in ABIA State. Whatever he does presently contrary to that order is in contempt of that order and there are consequnces for that kind of behaviour in law.