Owerri – A Federal High Court in Owerri, the Imo State capital, has nullified the recently-held ward and local government congresses of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Imo State.
Justice Lewis Allagoa, the presiding judge, in his ruling that lasted for almost two hours, held that the APC ward and local government congresses were never held in the state, in the first place.
He, therefore, ordered the party to conduct fresh congresses in the state in line with the guidelines of the party.
He said: “They should go back and conduct fresh congresses in accordance with the constitution of the party; they should be responsible and save our democracy.”
The judge observed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which was the body mandated by the Electoral Act to supervise primaries and congresses of political parties, in their report, attached as exhibit by the plaintiffs, affirmed that APC congresses were not held in the state.
Justice Allagoa dismissed the argument of counsel to the defendants that the plaintiffs lacked the locus standi to challenge the conduct of the congresses in the state.
He ruled that the plaintiffs, having established the fact that they were members of the party and ward chairmen, had the locus standi to challenge the outcome of the ward congresses.
Justice Allagoa also dismissed the argument by counsel to the second and eight defendants, Kelvin Nwufor (SAN), that the plaintiffs did not get leave of court to serve the defendants outside the jurisdiction of the court, stating that the Federal High Court had one jurisdiction.
The judge, therefore, granted the plaintiffs’ prayers that the court declare as null and void results purported to have emanated from the APC congress in the state as the exercise was never held across the state.
The plaintiffs, who were APC ward chairmen, in the originating summons in the suit, with no. FHC/OW/CS/69/2018, had prayed the court, among other reliefs sought, to issue an order of injunction restraining the defendants by themselves, agents, or privies from announcing or declaring or making reference to non-existing results of the ward congress purportedly claimed to have been released by them as results of the inconclusive ward congress.
The defendants in the suit include the immediate past APC National Organising Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso; the state chairman of the party, Chief Hilary Eke; the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and others.
Meanwhile, Governor Rochas Okorocha has hailed the Federal High Court judgment confirming that there was no congress of APC in the state, and the court’s ruling that the congresses should be conducted in line with the provisions of the party’s constitution.