Dissolution of APC NWC: Court declines to hear suit during vacation

A Federal High Court in Abuja has declined to resume hearing, during the ongoing vacation, a suit challenging the dissolution of the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Justice Taiwo Taiwo held that the action did not qualify as an urgent matter which a vacation court should hear.

The application was filed by an APC member in Abia State, Kalu Agu.

In the substantive suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/736/2020, Agu is challenging the June 25, 2020 decision of the APC to sack the Oshiomhole-led NWC and appoint a Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, led by Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni.

The lawyer asked the FHC to, among others, declare the dissolution of the NWC, led by Oshiomhole, as unconstitutional, illegal, null, and void.

But when the matter came up last month, the APC argued in its counter-affidavit that the suit by Agu was designed to destabilise its current peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts.

The APC contended that Buni and other members of the National Caretaker Committee are eminently qualified for their appointment. It prayed the court to dismiss Agu’s suit.

In another application, the party through its counsel Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), asked the court to reject a motion by Agu, seeking to have the case heard during its ongoing vacation and to abridge parties’ time to file their processes.

The party faulted Agu’s claim that the suit was pre-election in nature and ought to be determined within 180 days.

Fagbemi, who also represents members of the APC Caretaker Committee listed among the defendants, argued that the suit has no particular life span.

He added that the subject of the suit did not relate to any particular election.

Ruling on the matter on Wednesday, September 23, Justice Taiwo held that Agu’s application was without merit.

He said: “My critical examination and consideration of the Originating Summons together with the affidavit in support reveals to me that this matter is not a pre-election matter within the meaning of Section 285(14) and as decided by the superior court…

“Therefore, all I can just say is that the action of the plaintiff is not one that qualifies as a pre-election matter. I so hold. It, therefore, means that the Practice Direction No 2 of 2020 is not applicable to this case not being a pre-election matter.

“This matter is not one that is time-bound having not been borne out of the Constitution or any Statute nor designated as time-bound by any law or statute. Therefore, this action does not qualify as an urgent matter for which this court as a vacation court should waste its time on.

“Having held that this suit is not a pre-election matter to which section 285(14) of the Constitution, 1999 (as amended) apply, this court cannot hear this suit during the Court’s vacation as same is not time-bound except the parties agree that same be heard at this time.

“I need to add that the applicant has not shown within the law and the rules of court how he has been denied fair hearing if this suit is not heard during the court’s vacation.”