The new National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Maxi Okwu, yesterday said the order of the Appeal Court that reinstated Chief Victor Umeh as chairman has no legal implication on the newly-elected national officers.
Okwu was elected on Monday as APGA National Chairman during a convention held in Awka, Anambra State.
But a few hours after the Awka convention, the Court of Appeal ordered a stay of execution of the judgment of an Enugu High Court, which sacked Umeh alongside other members of the National Working Committee (NWC) on February 8. Speaking to newsmen at his country home in Achi, Oji River Local Government Area of Enugu State yesterday, Okwu said the ruling had no implication on his executive.
The APGA chairman spoke shortly after he was conferred with the chieftaincy title of Ogbaturu Enyi, (one that killed an elephant), by the traditional ruler of Akwunobi Kingdom, Igwe Ginger Ibeneme. Okwu insisted that before the ruling came, the High Court order had already been executed.
“Anybody that knows how the court operates should realise that you can’t stay declarative judgment such as that of the Enugu High Court. You also can’t stay a judgment that has already been executed. The judgment was executed as early as 8a.m on Monday and around 12noon, some people started talking about order for stay of execution.
“So, that ruling is an exercise in futility. Even a first year Law student knows that you don’t stay an order that has been executed. We already have a new born baby, which is the APGA executive and it can’t be aborted again,” he maintained. He promised to re-position and restructure the party, adding that the governorship election in 2014 was that one party would win convincingly.
“Governor Peter Obi has done so much in Anambra State. He restored sanity to the state, so I’m optimistic that Anambra people will vote APGA again,” he said.
Meanwhile, it was war of words between Umeh and Okwu during a radio programme monitored on Raypower FM in Lagos, yesterday, as they laid claims to be the rightful leader. Umeh, who won a technical victory following the ruling of an Appeal Court sitting in Enugu that granted a stay of execution on the ruling of a lower court, which hitherto restrained him from functioning as national chairman, faulted the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) involvement in Monday’s convention.
In a phone interview, Umeh wondered why INEC identified with the faction loyal to Governor Obi to oversee the convention when the party was aware the matter was before the appellate court and that ruling would be declared on Monday, April 8.
“So, for Maxi Okwu and his men to have conducted that convention under the cover of darkness showed they acted against the law, INEC should not have allowed itself to be dragged into that kind of holocaust.” He considered the convention a nullity and pronounced himself the authentic chairman of the party. But Okwu restated that Monday’s Appeal Court ruling is belated stressing that “no court order defeats a judgment.”
In his application at the appellate court, Umeh had sought a stay of execution on the order of the Enugu High Court that restrained Umeh from parading himself as the party chairman and for an order of accelerated hearing on the appeal.
At the Monday’s ruling, the Chairman of the Appeal Panel, Justice Paul Galinje, who led two other judges from Abuja in a unanimous verdict held that since the judgment of the lower court was merely declaratory, which overstepped its bounds on jurisdiction by joining parties that were not hitherto parties to the substantive suit, it behoved on the court to preserve the life of the party. Earlier, Igwe Ibeneme had urged the new APGA chairman to remain committed to the new responsibility of his office.
“You have been going around in the political arena but in this year 2013, your own time to shine politically has come,” the monarch told Okwu.
The royal father who stressed that he was not a politician but a father to every group, irrespective of their political and religious divides, called for fair participation for all the parties during elections. The APGA executive also visited the Commandant of Nigeria Police College, Oji River, CP Felix Uyanna.