THE Court of Appeal in Abuja has upheld the suspension of Adams Oshiomhole as All Progressives Congress (APC) national chairman.
The appellate court, in two judgments last night, dismissed the two appeals filed by Oshiomhole and the APC.
The first appeal queried the jurisdiction of High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to hear the case relating to Oshiomhole’s suspension by the local chapter of his party.
In the second appeal, Oshiomhole and the APC claimed to have been denied fair hearing by the High Court of the FCT in the proceedings leading to its granting an interlocutory injunction on March 4 restraining Oshiomhole from further parading himself as the APC national chairman.
A three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, after dismissing both appeals on the grounds that they lacked merit, proceeded to uphold the March 4 decision of the High Court of the FCT.
The court also affirmed the FCT High Court’s withdrawal of Oshiomhole’s rights and privileges as APC national chairman, including his security detail.
Justice Eunice Onyemanam, in the lead judgement in the first appeal, held that the High Court of the FCT had the territorial jurisdiction to have heard the suit and issued the interlocutory restraining orders as it did.
Justice Onyemanam said the trial court was right to have rejected Oshiomle’s preliminary objection challenging its jurisdiction.
She added that since Oshiomhole is based in Abuja and his party’s national headquarters is also in Abuja, the High Court of the FCT was clothed with the jurisdiction to hear the case
Justice Onyemanam held that by virtue of the High Court of the FCT’s Civil Procedure Rules, the plaintiffs were right to file the suit before the Abuja court.
She held that the suit filed by the plaintiffs at the High Court of the FCT did not amount to an abuse of court process.
Justice Onyemanam said it was not true that the plaintiffs had two pending suits on the same subject matter before the same court.
She observed that the plaintiffs had no intention to use the two suits and that the one marked FCT/HC/CV/2019 was withdrawn.
“Unless we intend to stand the law and the established procedures on their head, there is no element of abuse in the instant case,” she said.
Justice Onyemanam held that the principle that a court was barred from interfering in the internal affairs of a political party was not applicable in the case.
As against Oshiomhole’s argument, the judge also held the plaintiffs had locus standee to file the suit and faulted the appellants’ contention that none of the plaintiffs had any benefit to derive from the outcome of the suit.
In the second appeal, Justice Mohammed Lamido held, in the lead judgment, that as against Oshiomle’s claim, there was proof that his right to fair hearing was not denied by the trial court.
Justice Lamido was of the view that there was no basis for Oshiomhole and the APC (listed as the appellants) to claim that they were denied fair hearing during proceedings at the high court.
Justice Lamido held that contrary to the appellants’ argument, the order issued by the lower court was for his suspension and not removal from office.
He said the November 2, 2019 decision of the party in Ward 10 in Etsako LGA suspending him from office was ratified by the local government and state executives.
Justice Lamido observed that Oshiomhole promptly filed a suit, challenging his suspension on December 9, 2019, but later withdrew it on an erroneous impression.
He noted it took him 72 days, from the day he was suspended to file another suit to challenge his suspension by the party.
Justice Lamido held that the plaintiffs at the trial court, who were the respondents in the appeal, placed sufficient materials before the lower court to warrant the granting of the interlocutory order.
He said: “In these circumstances, the position taken by the lower court that the plaintiffs have made a case for the issuance of the interlocutory order is proper and that part of the decision is hereby upheld,” Justice Mohammed said.
He further held: “In the circumstances, I hold that the appellant’s right to fair hearing was not breached. The appeal is unmeritorious and it is hereby dismissed.”
A panel of the Appeal Court, led by Justice Abubakar Yahaya had on March 16, 2020, upon hearing an ex-parte motion argued for Oshiomhole by Wole Olanipekun (SAN), stayed the execution of the March 4 interlocutory order of the High Court of the FCT by, pending the hearing of his substantive appeal.
The appellate court’s decision on the substantive appeal yesterday restored the interlocutory order.
The ward executives of the APC had in November 2019 suspended Oshiomhole as a member of the party for anti-party activities, a decision which the FCT High Court anchored the order suspending Oshiomhole on November 2, 2019.
The main suit leading to the order earlier suspending Oshiomhole was instituted before the FCT High Court by six applicants, including the Vice-Chairman of the party, North-East, Mustapha Salihu, and the Chairman of the party in Edo State, Anslem Ojezua.
The rest of the applicants are members of Oshiomhole’s Ward 10 of Etsako West Local Government Area of Edo State, Alhaji Sani Gomna, Oshawo Steven, Fani Wabulari, and Princewill Ejogharado.
Oshiomhole, who was represented yesterday by a team of lawyers led by Damian Dodo (SAN) was in court throughout the proceedings.
The court heard both appeals and returned hours later to deliver the judgements.