BY TONY EDIKE & VINCENT UJUMADU
ENUGU — The Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu, yesterday, restored to office the National Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Victor Umeh, who was restrained from parading himself in that capacity by an Enugu State High court on February 10.
Chief Maxi Okwu, who took oath of office with other elected officers of the party in Awka, after last weekend’s national convention held in the Anambra State capital, described the Court of Appeal ruling as ridiculous.
The three-man panel of justices, including Justice Paul Galinje (Chairman), Justices F. A. Kwasami and Tom Yakubu unanimously ruled that since the appellant (Umeh) duly appealed against the decision of the lower court presided by Justice Innocent Umezulike, Chief Judge of Enugu State, challenging his jurisdiction and accusing him of bias, the status quo ought to be maintained, pending the determination of the appeal.
Justice Galinje, who delivered the lead ruling, said the court agreed with the submissions by the applicant’s counsels, Patrick Ikweto, SAN and Chief Wale Olanipekun, SAN, that the injunction made against Chief Umeh by the lower court was capable of causing him and APGA irreparable damages if the status quo was not maintained while the matter was pending at the appeal court.
He said that the respondent, Mr. Jude Okuli, an expelled member of the party in Enugu State, did not file a counter-affidavit.
He added that when the bailiff made an attempt to serve him the applicant’s motion and other processes, he refused to accept the court processes including the application for stay of execution. The processes were therefore dropped for him at the place he was met.
The court agreed that “an appeal per se does not operate as a stay of execution,” but the same law did not prescribe in favour of any execution during the pendency of an appeal.
“The section does not give any licence directly or indirectly for the issuance and execution of any processes which might be offensive,” he said, stressing that the group identified as stakeholders of APGA which attempted to conduct fresh convention of the party while the appeal was pending was out of place.
Speaking with newsmen after the ruling which was heralded by wild jubilation by scores of APGA chieftains and supporters that converged in the appeal court premises, Chief Umeh said that the party was happy by the ruling of the court, which he said, had restored his confidence in the judiciary.
On the next line of action of the party towards the activity of the Maxi Okwu-led interim national chairman set up by Governor Obi, Umeh maintained that Okwu who was expelled from the party alongside Chief Chekwas Okorie had never been readmitted into the party and couldn’t have a valid claim to membership of the party not to talk about being appointed or elected as interim national chairman.
Shortly after the news of the Court of Appeal ruling grating Chief Victor Umeh’s application for stay of execution, Chief Maxi Okwu, who took oath of office with other elected officers of the party in Awka, described the Court of Appeal ruling as ridiculous.
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