Court declares Aguma Rivers APC Acting chair

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A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has declared Hon. Igo Aguma, the Acting Chairman of the All Progressives Congress in the state.

The court also compelled the party to allow all members of the party loyal to Sen. Magnus Abe, who purchased from for the congresses of the party in 2018 to take part in the process.

Justice George Omereji gave these rulings in two separate suits brought before him by Dele Moses and 9 others and Igo Aguma, a chieftain of the party, on different matters in the crises rocking the party in the state.

Aguma had sought the court to declare the Caretaker Committee brought by the National Working Committee of the party as void, and declare him to head the affairs of the state by virtue of his position as the National Delegate and Statutory member of the party.

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Omereji in his judgment after the submissions of the claimant’s counsel, Echezona Etiaba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, declared that Aguma had the locus standi to approach the court, adding that there was the issue of injustice and violation of the civil right of the applicant.

On issues of jurisdiction as raised by the defendants, Omereji held that the court has the right to entertain the matter to see whether the rights of the claimants have been violated, adding that defendants have not established that the claimant has no locus standi and had provided no evidence to show that he (Aguma) did not exhaust all the avenues in the party before approaching the court.

He also ruled that the suit was not an abuse of the court process, because he only requested that the APC rules should be followed, noting that the claimant being a former member of House of Representatives meets the requirements of a statutory member.

He ruled that no section of the APC constitution prohibits the statutory members of the party not to carry out the duties of the State Executive Committee in their absence, noting that in the case such lacuna that will warrant the setting up of the Committee by the national body of the party has not arisen because there was still the State Executive Committee of the party in the state.

He held: “It is my view that the appointment of the caretaker of the Committee without the inclusion of the national delegate and SEC is a violation of the party’s constitution. All the National Convention Delegates and State Executive Committee members should be part of the caretaker Committee.”

He noted that the tenure of the caretaker committee of the party elapsed in September, noting that the continuous stay of the caretaker Committee is null and void, even he described it as fatal.

Omereji, who granted all the prayers of the claimant, Aguma, held that the decision of the court should be given immediate effect to enable the second party to rebuild itself.

On the matter brought by Dele Moses and nine others, Omereji held that only those who purchased the form to participate in the annulled Congresses of the party in the state should participate in the Congresses to be rescheduled by the party.

The judge granted all six prayers of the applicants, ruling that the court can interfere in the internal affairs of the party when the party constitution is not followed.

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Omereji held that democracy would be effective in the country when the parties have internal democracy, noting that the suit by Moses and others is justiceable.

He ruled that all the candidates and those excluded in the cancelled Congresses are automatic to be allowed to participate in the process.

Reacting to the court judgment, Aguma, noted that the ruling has given the party opportunity to make peace, noting that the party is bigger than any individual.

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Aguma promised not to compromise the confidence reposed on him in piloting the affairs of the party, adding that peace would be restored in the party.

However, counsel for the defendants, Mr. Emenike Ebete, said the decisions of the court on the two matters would be challenged at the Court of Appeal.

He noted that there were a lot of grounds where the court erred in its decisions, adding that the judgment would not survive tested at the appellate court.

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