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Supreme Court Affirms Victor Oye as APGA National Chairman

THE Supreme Court on Friday affirmed Chief Victor Oye as the authentic National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

In a unanimous judgment by a five-man panel of Justices, the apex court dismissed an appeal that was filed by a faction of the party, led by Chief Martin Agbaso.

Justice Sidi Bage, who delivered the lead judgment, upheld August 16, 2017, the verdict of the Court of Appeal in Enugu, which vacated the order of mandamus that directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to relate with and to recognise Agbaso as the authentic National Chairman of APGA.

“In the final analysis, the two issues in the appeal are resolved in favour of the 1st Respondent. The appeal lacks merit and it is accordingly dismissed.

The judgment of the lower court is affirmed. I make no order as to cost”, Justice Bage held.

Other members of the panel that concurred with the lead verdict were Justices Rhodes Bode-Vigour, Mary Odili, Iyang Okoro and Amiru Sanusi.

Similarly, the apex court panel dismissed a second leg of the appeal marked SC/717/2017, which was filed by the Deputy Chairman of APGA in Enugu State, Mr Mike Alioke.

The court said its decision to affirm two appellate court judgements that were delivered on August 15 and 16, 2017, with respect to Alioke’s appeal, was based, “on the need to do substantial justice without delving into technicalities”.

Justice Bage said the court was duty bound to look beyond “some technical blunders” and determine the case on its merit. The issues are resolved in favour of the 1st Respondent”.

It will be recalled that the Agbaso led faction had in the appeal marked SC/718/2017, which they filed in the name of APGA, prayed the apex court to reinstate the order that earlier compelled INEC to relate with them.

The battle for control of the leadership structure in APGA was triggered after an Enugu State High Court, on May 22, 2017, gave an order of mandamus compelling INEC, Police and other authorities, to recognise Chief Agbaso as the National Chairman of the party.

The order followed a motion that was filed by Alioke, who asked the court to direct INEC and Police to recognise a resolution by stakeholders of the party to appoint Agbaso as Acting National Chairman in the face of what was claimed as vacancies in the office.

Some members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party had in October 2016, announced the suspension of Oye from the party for alleged gross misconduct.

Oye was suspended alongside the Deputy National Chairman (North), Alhaji Abubakar Adamu and the Deputy National Chairman (South), Chief Uche Okogbuo, while Mr Nwabueze Okafor (now late), was appointed as interim National Chairman.

The late Okafor was the Vice Chairman of APGA in the South East before he was chosen to replace Oye, a resolution that fictionalised the party.

In the wave of fresh crisis that erupted upon Okafor’s death, Alioke, in the motion he filed before the Enugu High Court, insisted that an order was necessary on the police to avoid a breakdown of law and order in the party.

However, the order of mandamus, which was accordingly issued by the high court, was vigorously contested at the Court of Appeal in Enugu.

Oye eventually persuaded the court to set-aside the order that made INEC and Police recognise the Agbaso-led faction.

Dissatisfied with the outcome of the appeal, Agbaso and his group approached the Supreme Court, contending that Oye was not part of the matter at the lower court and as such, should not benefit from the judgment without first securing a leave of appeal.

The appellants maintained that Oye who entered the matter at the appellate court level, as an interested party, was legally required to seek and obtain leave of court before he could validly lodge an appeal to challenge the order of mandamus on INEC.

The appellant stressed that Oye only obtained the leave when his case was already pending at the Court of Appeal. Their argument was however dismissed by the Supreme Court which described it as placing reliance on technicalities.

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