13 February 2013

Nigeria: Umeh Appeals Judgment Sacking Him As Apga Chairman

Enugu — Embattled National Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Victor Umeh, Tuesday approached the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division, seeking to set aside last Friday's decision by an Enugu State High Court which ordered his removal as the party's chairman and sacked the National Working Committee, NWC.

Umeh also filed a motion on notice before the Enugu High court praying for an order staying the execution of the February 8, 2013 judgment delivered by the state Chief Judge, Justice Innocent Umezulike, in the suit brought against him by one Jude Okuli, pending the determination of the appeal he instituted against the court's verdict.

He cited 12 grounds of appeal in which he said the trial judge erred in law by dismissing his notice of preliminary objection to Okuli's suit and rejected his request to hands off the suit for allegedly being biased among others.

In the motion filed by his lead counsel, Patrick Ikwueto, SAN, Umeh told the lower court that he had filed a notice of appeal against the judgment of the lower court which raised fundamental constitutional issues and questioned the competence/jurisdiction of the court to entertain and adjudicate on Okuli's suit.

Umeh stated that Umezulike had made an order of injunction against him as the National Chairman of APGA as well as the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the paty, stressing that "unless by an order of this Honourable Court, irreversible damage will be done to the Defendant/Appellant/Applicant as well as APGA if the judgement/orders of this Honourable court are not stayed pending the hearing and determination of the Appeal."

In a 21-paragraph affidavit in support of the motion personally deposed to by Chief Umeh, he told the court that prior to the delivery of the judgment by the Enugu Chief Judge, he had appealed against the proceedings of the court including the order dismissing "my application seeking to disqualify this Honourable court from continuing with the hearing and determination of this suit for manifest violation of my Constitutional Right to fair hearing."

"By my Notice of Appeal filed on 9 October 2012 (the Appeal entered as CA/E/14/2013 I sought from the Court of Appeal inter alia for an Order "remitting this case for hearing de novo before another judge of the Enugu State High Court..."

He further told the court that unless the judgment of the lower court was stayed, "I will be adversely affected and prevented from continuing to carry out my statutory duties as the National Chairman of APGA before the hearing and determination of any Appeal against the judgment of this Honourable Court and thereby render nugatory my pending Appeal."

In the appeal filed yesterday, Umeh expressed total dissatisfaction with the decision of the Enugu State Chief judge in the matter saying he erred in law by dismissing his notice of preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of his court to entertain Okuli's suit, adding that the court "erred in law and thereby occasioned a miscarriage of justice when it held that it had the jurisdiction to entertain this suit."

He further told the appellate court that by setting aside the decision reached by APGA at its National Convention held on February 10, 2010, "the trial court acted without jurisdiction and thereby reached an erroneous conclusion when it granted reliefs not claimed by any party before it." A court is not a charitable institution and is without power to grant any unclaimed relief," Umeh averred.

The Enugu State Chief Judge had in his ruling last Friday voided the National Convention of APGA held on February 10, 2011 during which the current National Working Committee of the party was elected declaring that the tenure of Chief Umeh ended since December 2, 2010 having not been validly re-elected for another tenure. The court's decision, however, left a vacuum in the leadership of the party as the entire leadership was removed by the judge.

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