The three-man committee inaugurated by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata to look into the cases of conflicting court orders in the country has submitted its report.
The panel was raised following conflicting court orders regarding the position of the former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus and the Anambra State Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Charles Soludo.
In a statement obtained by SaharaReporters on Friday, the committee which was made up of Dr Babatunde Ajibade, Oluwaseun Abimbola and Dr Monday Ubani has sent its findings and recommendations to the NBA President.
The statement partly read, “The Nigerian legal community recently witnessed a spate of conflicting orders that were obtained and granted from various courts across the country in political cases, which created ripples all over the nation. The uproar necessitated the NBA President, Mr Olumide Akpata to set up a three-man Committee made up of Dr Babatunde Ajibade SAN, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Mr Oluwaseun Abimbola SAN, Chairman of the Section on Legal Practice and Dr Monday Ubani, Chairman of the Section on Public Interest and Development Law.
Before setting up the Committee, Mr Akpata issued a statement condemning the “unfortunate and recurring trend of contradictory Court decisions and orders, especially amongst courts of coordinate jurisdiction typically arising from ex-parte applications and almost always in political matters”.
A former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Soludo battled several court orders to emerge as APGA’s candidate for Anambra governorship election, by winning the June 23 primary election organised by the party’s leadership led by Victor Oye.
Justice Ubale upheld Jude Okeke’s claim that he became the acting National Chairman of APGA, after purportedly taking over from one Edozie Njoku, who was said to be on suspension.
A Delta State High Court presided by Justice Joe Egwu had earlier issued an injunction against the parallel primary organised by the Okeke-led faction, but the Judge later allowed the event to go ahead after vacating the order.
Victor Oye was reportedly the APGA National Chairman recognised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and the primary which produced Soludo was monitored by the Commission and was also affirmed by Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, who has endorsed Soludo as his successor.
But, as a result of the June 28, 2021 court order delivered by the Jigawa State High Court, INEC listed Chukwuma Umeoji, rather than Soludo, as APGA candidate, when an initial list of candidates for the election was published on July 16, 2021. There were reports that INEC only got to know about the order of the Jigawa State High Court that compelled it to recognise Umeoji, just hours before it released the list of the governorship candidates.
An Anambra State High Court presided by Justice C. C. Okaa on July 19 reinstated Soludo as the APGA candidate for the governorship election by declaring that the former CBN Governor was the authentic candidate of APGA. The court described the Okeke-led APGA faction and its Governorship candidate (Umeoji) as meddlesome interlopers, and ordered INEC to publish Soludo’s name as the governorship candidate of the party.
But, following a suit filed by an APGA member, Chike Dike, to challenge the publication of Umeoji’s name by INEC, an Imo State High Court presided by Justice B. C. Iheka on June 30 affirmed that Okeke remained the National Chairman of APGA, with Umeoji as the party’s governorship candidate.
However, INEC finally reinstated Soludo as the APGA candidate for the poll after Justice Nwosu-Ikpeme of the Court of Appeal, Awka Division, in August, dismissed an application filed by the Okeke faction to challenge the July 19 judgement of the Anambra High Court which declared the former CBN Governor as the party’s authentic candidate.
In the same vein, Secondus was tossed here and there with court orders after three different courts in three different states had handed out three different orders on his position as National Chairman of the PDP. The court orders were delivered within a period of just five days – from August 23, 2021, to August 27, 2021.
The first court order came on August 23, when a Rivers State High Court presided over by Justice O. Gbasam granted an interim injunction restraining Secondus from parading himself as the Chairman and a member of the PDP.
A second court order came on August 26. In a ruling which upturned the earlier pronouncement by the Rivers State High Court, a Kebbi State High Court ordered Secondus to return to his position as the National Chairman of the PDP.
The third court order, issued by a Cross River State High Court on August 27, overturned Secondus’ reinstatement by the Kebbi State High Court. Just hours before Secondus was billed to preside over a meeting of the PDP National Executive Committee (NEC), the Cross River State High Court sitting in Calabar barred him from returning to office as the National Chairman of the party. The court presided by Justice Edem Kooffreh granted the interim order while ruling on a motion ex parte filed by Enang Wani against Secondus and the PDP.
It was the two circumstances that informed the inauguration, as the statement read further that, “The three-man Committee was mandated to make enquiries and provide the NBA President with a preliminary report on what transpired in the specific cases referred to in the statement and, if and where our members were involved in a manner amounting to misconduct, to make recommendations for further action by the NBA.
“The specific cases referred to in the NBA President’s statement were those relating to the National Chairmanship crisis of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and those relating to the nomination of candidates by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) for the last gubernatorial elections in Anambra State.
“The Committee has carried out the assignment to the best of its ability and has sent its findings and recommendations to the NBA President for further action.”