The Supreme Court has nullified the May 19 to 21 congress of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State.
In a ruling on Monday, the apex court described the conduct of the congress as a “serious violation of court order” and berated the Court of Appeal which nullified a high court order against the controversial congress.
Following an ex-parte application by aggrieved members of the APC, led by Abdulahi Umar, a high court in the state instructed the party members to suspend plans for the conduct of its local government congress on May 12, pending the determination of the substantive application alleging the marginalisation of some of its members.
Rather than comply with the court order, the APC filed an application at an Appeal Court and proceeded to conduct its primaries on basis of the application filed.
The national leadership of the party, led by its former chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun issued a statement directing a postponement of the congress from May 12 to 19 and consequently directed the Rivers State APC to proceed with the conduct of the congress.
In a decision on the matter on May 31, the lower court presided over by a judge, Chinwendu Nwogu, said the APC conducted its congress in outright violation of subsisting court orders. The judge described the said congress as a nullity.
However, in a counter ruling, the Appeal Court in Rivers State in its ruling by the lead judge, Isarah Akeju, overruled Mr Nwogu’s nullification of the APC congress, resulting in a fresh application by Mr Umar at the Supreme Court.
A five member panel of the apex court on Monday, led by Centus Nweze berated the appeal court for affirming the congress and warned that the court would not tolerate attempts to undermine its decision by any Nigerian.
“It is unfortunate and wrongful for the Court of Appeal to entertain a party in contempt of a valid court order, to the extent of granting judicial favour by way of stay of execution of an injunctive order.
“It is a serious matter for anyone to flout a court order and in the instant case, it is clear that the respondent (APC) was in grave disobedience of two lawful court orders.
“It is sacrilegious, ill-fated and a suicide mission for the Court of Appeal to have departed from various decision of the Supreme Court that any party in contempt of court ought not to be granted judicial discretion and in this matter, appeal court is bound to follow Supreme Court final decision,” the court ruled.
The now voided congress produced the currently recognised chairman of the APC in Rivers, Ojukaye Amachree, an ally of transport minister, Rotimi Amaechi.