The Court of Appeal sitting in Benin, on Friday upturned the March 18, 2019 judgment of the Asaba Federal High Court which declared Cyril Ogodo-led faction of the Delta State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC as the authentic executives of the party. The appellate court instead affirmed the Prophet Jones Erue-led State Working Committee as the legally elected Executive of the party. This followed an appeal filed by the dissatisfied Erhue-led faction of the party against the earlier judgment.
The court in a unanimous judgment read by Justice Mohammed Shaibu held that the lower court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit as it bordered on the intra-party matter. The appellate court also held that respondents’ non-compliance with section 97 of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act was a fundamental breach of the law, adding that statutory provision on service of the writ of summons was not complied with, as the writ was not endorsed. According to the court, failure of the respondents to file their suit within 14 days of the act complained of (pre-election), extinguished their rights and they therefore, lacked locus standi to contest the primary they did not participate in.
“In the instant case, the respondents were neither aspirants nor contestants” and therefore lack locus standi to challenge the action of the APC”. Allowing the appeal, the court consequently struck out the judgment of the lower court for lack of jurisdiction and awarded N100,000 costs against the respondents.
Delivering a unanimous judgment in a similar case, Justice N.N. Uwa held that election matters are time-bound and must be strictly adhered to, adding that the lower court was wrong to have assumed jurisdiction in the suit. In the opinion of the court, “the lower court was wrong, the judgment is a nullity and is hereby set aside”. By these judgments, all actions taken by the Prophet Erue executive of the party, including fielding candidates for elections, have been validated. Ovie Omo-Agege, serving senator representing Delta Central senatorial district, as well as the senator-elect who is eyeing the deputy senate presidency in the ninth National Assembly, belongs to the Erhue faction of the party.