The African Action Congress (AAC) has condemned a judgment of the Federal High Court by Justice Inyang Ekwo upholding the suspension if its National Chairman, Omoyele Sowore.
Expelled Secretary of the party, Leonard Ezenwa, had staged a suspension on national television.
But the result of the suspension was discarded by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which said in a public memo that the only chairman it recognized was Sowore.
The statement read: “The AAC in a statement on Saturday said, “Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday, 12th May, 2019 delivered a strange, shocking verdict in the sponsored suit brought by one Leonard Nzenwa in his desperate and dubious bid to hijack the African Action Congress (AAC) for the insatiable and pecuniary gains of Governor Nyesom Wike.
“Justice Ekwo refused to consider the legal defense of Mr. Omoyele Sowore and Dr. Malcolm Fabiyi, ruling that the suit was ‘uncontested’ on the bogus ground that the 65-page counter affidavit with its 12 exhibits – deposed to on their behalf by Dr. Adeoye, the Deputy National Secretary of the African Action Congress – would not be countenanced by the court because Mr. Sowore and Dr. Malcolm, whose names were personally mentioned in the suit, could not depose to their counter affidavit themselves.
“He also went on to discountenance the case put forward by the National Legal Adviser of the AAC, Mr. Inibehe Effiong, whose submissions he said he said cannot be considered no matter how brilliant it was.
“This judgment is a clear miscarriage of justice and runs counter to long established principles of law on affidavit evidence. Dr. Adeoye, who deposed to the counter affidavit had personal knowledge of the facts he swore to, and stated the source, time, date and circumstances of facts as required by the Evidence Act.
“Also, all legal scholars who have heard of this sham judgment, unanimously maintain that in proceedings by affidavit evidence, a litigant is not required to personally depose to the affidavit, as the principle of “hearsay evidence” does not apply to ‘affidavit evidence’.
“It is therefore most shocking that Ekwo ignored the facts of the case and the merits of the defense, which exposed the fraudulent claims and forged documents of the Plaintiff; on the ground that only Mr. Sowore and Dr. Fabiyi should have deposed to the affidavit.
“Justice Ekwo received the International Passport of Sowore as evidentiary proof that he had travelled out of Nigeria on the 12th day of May, 2019 (two days before the case was filed by Leonard Nzenwa). How can the same Ekwo, who made an ex-parte order reducing the time within which Mr. Sowore and Dr. Malcolm were to respond to a mere 14 days, ignore this, and now predicate his ruling on a legally-vacuous assertion that Sowore should have personally deposed to the counter affidavit?
“This is the same Judge who had earlier granted an interim injunction in this same case that did not meet any of the stipulations in the Law for such a relief! But, is it really a shock in this Nigeria we are trying to take back from unscrupulous elements?
“It was interesting to observe that Mr. Nzenwa was escorted to the court today by security men and associates of Governor Nyesom Wike and members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State.
“Unknown to us, while our lawyer was resisting the legal shenanigans of Leonard and his sponsors at the Federal High Court in Abuja, the same Leonard had surreptitiously procured judgment from the High Court of the FCT in Apo, in a suit filed by an unknown ‘Hon. Abugu Bako’.
“Without hearing Sowore, Justice Binta Muhammed of the FCT High Court ruled on the 19th May, 2019 that Sowore was validly “suspended” as the National Chairman of the AAC. Interestingly, in a manner that can only be described as legally irregular, despite dismissing the case brought by this ‘Hon. Abugu Bako’ purportedly challenging the ‘suspension’ of Sowore, Justice Binta Muhammed granted the very same reliefs Justice Ekwo granted on Friday. This is despite the fact that Mr. Nzenwa DID NOT FILE A COUNTER CLAIM to the suit in the FCT High Court.
“Interestingly, the so-called ‘Hon. Abugu Bako’ did not join Sowore as a Defendant in the suit, which was filed secretly at the FCT High Court in Apo on the 13th of May, 2019 (a day before Nzenwa filed a different suit at the Federal High Court).
“Intriguingly, Leonard Nzenwa was represented by the same lawyer (one Emeka Ozoani Esq.) in both cases, seeking the same injunctive reliefs, in two courts in Abuja, within one day of each other. Intriguingly also, relying on the legal manipulations from these two cases, Leonard Nzenwa rushed to the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Rivers State to frustrate the petition filed by the AAC gubernatorial candidate in River State, installing a PDP lawyer to represent the AAC, to give Governor Nyesom Wike what he wanted – a desperate win at the election tribunal.
“Notably also, in the case at the FCT High Court, the supporting affidavit was not personally deposed to by this ‘Hon. Abugu Bako’, but by one Miss Chioma Mbonu, a Litigation Secretary in the law firm of one Elochukwu Nweke Esq., who claimed to be counsel to the said claimant.
“So, while Justice Binta Muhammed relied on the affidavit of a staff of a law firm to provide what Governor Wike wanted – for Mr. Nzenwa to act as Chairman of the AAC to torpedo its case at the tribunal; Justice Inyang Ekwo on his part rejected a counter affidavit sworn to by the Deputy National Secretary of the AAC, to also provide what Governor Wike wanted – for Mr. Nzenwa to act as Chairman of the AAC to torpedo its case at the tribunal.
“Is this not a mockery of the Nigerian judicial system? The totality of these abnormalities is that the AAC will be appealing the questionable judicial processes. We hope for a judiciary whose members (legal counsel and justices alike), will not be working in tandem with corrupt politicians, and specifically in this case, with the PDP in Rivers State.
“Finally, we must urge the leadership of the Nigerian Judiciary to salvage the judiciary from political interference and corruption. Transparency International recently ranked the Nigerian Judiciary as the third most corrupt institution in the country, and one of the worst worldwide. This shameful and tragic perception against the Nigerian Judiciary will continue to thrive except Judges and Lawyers in Nigeria rise above political romance and corruption.
“We urge members of the AAC in Nigeria not to be deterred by these temporary setbacks. It is a pyrrhic victory for dubious and fraudulent elements. We have already begun the process of appealing against the two procured judgements.”