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Court Suspends Oshiomole as APC Chairman

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The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Jabi, Abuja, on Wednesday, ordered an interim suspension of Adams Oshiomhole as the national chairman of the All Progressives Congress.

Delivering a ruling on an application for interlocutory injunction, Justice Danlami Senchi said his order would subsist pending the determination of the main suit bordering on his suspension as a member of the party.

The order, which was given at 11pm,  triggered a renewed battle for the control of the party by members loyal to Oshiomhole and governors, who were opposed to him.

The governors, with the assistance of anti-Oshiomhole forces in the party’s National Working Committee, it was learnt, might, in the next few days, call the party’s National Executive Council’s meeting where the embattled national chairman’s fate would be finally decided.

Justice Senchi,  in his ruling earlier on Wednesday, held that the party wrongfully continued to retain Oshiomhole as its national chairman while he was under suspension as a member of the party.

He, therefore, ordered Oshiomhole to stop parading himself as the national chairman of the party, and directed the party to cease acknowledging him in that regard.

Court orders police, DSS to block him from accessing his office

He also ordered the Inspector-General of Police and the Department of State Services to mobilise their operatives to prevent him from accessing his office at the party’s secretariat.

The suit was instituted 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  Alhaji Sani Gomna, Oshawo Steven, Fani Wabulari, and Princewill Ejogharado.

The respondents are Oshiomhole, the APC, the Inspector-General of Police, Adamu Mohammed, and the DSS.

The plaintiffs represent a cross-section of members of the party, who are embroiled in different political battles with Oshiomhole at his home state of Edo and at the national level.

Salihu had on numerous occasions openly called for Oshiomhole’s removal as the national chairman of the party for allegedly mishandling of the party’s affairs.

On November 12, 2019, the raging superiority battle between Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and Oshiomhole, led to the party in the state under the leadership of Ojezua, announcing Oshiomhole’s suspension from the party.

On the same day, a faction loyal to Oshiomhole suspended Obaseki-backed factional chairman,  Ojezua, the governor himself and some other loyalists of the governor.

Also, the Director-General of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, Salihu Lukman,  in a statement on  November 13, 2019, said Oshiomhole should either convene the party’s NEC meeting or resign.

He blamed the former Edo State governor for the crises rocking the party in Rivers, Zamfara, Ondo and Bayelsa states.

On January 16, 2020, the plaintiffs filed an application asking for the suspension of Oshiomhole on the basis that he had been suspended as a member of the party.

Arguing the application on their behalf earlier on Monday, their lawyer, Oluwole Afolabi,  noted that Oshiomhole did not challenge his suspension by the Edo State chapter of the APC.

He added that Oshiomhole’s rights as a member were under suspension, and could not continue to act as chairman of the party.

Opposing the application, counsel for Oshiomhole and the APC, Damian Dodo (SAN), said the applicants did not place any material before the court that entitled them to the prayers sought.

Granting the plaintiffs’ application on Wednesday, the judge made “an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the first respondent (Oshiomhole) from continuing to parade himself or performing any function as the national chairman of the second respondent or representing the second respondent in any capacity pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”

The judge also granted a similar order restraining the APC from “continuing to recognise” him as its national  chairman “including giving effect to any of his decisions or according to him any privilege/benefit accruing to its national chairman pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”

The judge barred him from “representing” the party “at any engagement or allowing him access to the office of the national chairman”.

He also ordered the IGP and the DSS “to deploy their staff, agents and operatives to prevent the first respondent from continuing to occupy the office of the national chairman of the second respondent and from having access to the said office”.

Armed policemen deployed in APC secretariat

Shortly after it was delivered, the ruling generated reactions with the police beefing up security at the APC national secretariat in Abuja.

Not long after the court announced Oshiomhole’s suspension, 13 pick-up loads of armed policemen arrived at the party secretariat and took up positions at the major entry and exit points.

A few minutes later, two court bailiffs arrived to give a copy of the ruling to the party. The court officials arrived at 4:43pm and left at 4: 57pm after delivering the documents to an official in the office of the National Legal Adviser, Babatunde Ogala.

We will abide by ruling –Acting national secretary

The party’s acting National Secretary, Victor Giadom, expressed the party’s willingness to respect the court ruling suspending Oshiomhole and any other order which might arise.

In an interview with journalists after the court order, Giadom said, “As a party, we are aware of the injunction. As a law-abiding party, we will respect all lawful court orders. Very soon, the national working committee will meet and you will hear further from the party.

I am trying to say that the All Progressives Congress will respect all lawful court orders. We will soon do that.”

Speaking specifically about the suspension of the party’s national chairman, he said, “Like I did say, there’s a court injunction and it is binding on us as a party to respect all the court injunctions.”

It was gathered that the embattled national chairman met with five members of the  NWC at his private office in Aso Drive, Abuja. Details of the meeting were still sketchy as of the time of sending this report.

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