The Independent National Electoral Commission should obey the judgment of the Supreme Court and recognise Chief Edozie Njoku as the authentic chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, its Founding National Chairman, Chief Chekwas Okorie has said.
Okorie, the presidential candidate of the Njoku-led National Working Committee of APGA also expressed surprise that INEC was yet to recognise Njoku as the chairman of the party despite a subsisting Supreme Court decision which sacked Victor Oye.
Both Oye and Njoku have been laying claims to the leadership of the party ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, Okorie said that the Supreme Court had in its 2021 decision on the leadership tussle of APGA, replaced Njoku’s name with that of Oye, adding that following the letter addressed to Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court, same has now been corrected, thus making him the APGA authentic national chairman.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman (information and Voter Education Committee), Festus Okoye, said the commission would not trade words with anyone.
According to him, any party that was not satisfied with the INEC should seek redress in court.
Okoye said, “If a court order has been served on the commission and the commission willingly refuse to obey the judgment, what the judgement creditor ought do is to file contempt proceedings against the commission.
“So, if they believe that they have a judgement that has been served on the commission and we have refused to obey it, they should file contempt proceeding against the commission.”
Okorie said the corrected judgment has been subjected to “repeated verification and unwarranted investigation without finding faults either with the veracity of the correction or its authenticity.”He wondered why it was taking INEC so long to comply with the corrected judgement, saying the commission promptly comply with the October 14, 2020 judgment of the apex court which contained the mistake.
Okorie said, “In fact, INEC complied within the 48 hours of its delivery, the same INEC has turned its face away from the duly corrected judgment nearing 60 days after the correction.
“It is pertinent to state that for the first time in 18 years, since 2004, there is no APGA leadership dispute pending in any courts in Nigeria. Judgments in Suit nos FHC/BAU/CS/10/2021 and SC/CV/686/2021 unambiguously affirmed chief Edozie Njoku as the lawful and authentic National Chairman of APGA, thus the only national Chairman of the party legally qualified to nominate valid candidate to contest the 2023 general on election the platform of APGA.
“INEC must have an ulterior intention instigate another round of litigations in a political party that has finally found peace after 18 long years of various forms of leadership crises, some of which were fuelled by INEC, INEC should give APGA the liberty and latitude to develop and grow like other political parties.
“APGA is one of the two oldest surviving political Party in Nigeria along with the PDP, but has suffered a debilitating stunted growth due to unprecedented prolonged leadership crises.”
He said that Oye had no claim to any lawful national convention of APGA, adding that the candidature of those whose names and particulars have been submitted to INEC Oye are not sustainable and cannot stand the test of judicial scrutiny.
“Njoku is the obvious beneficiary of the corrected version of the judgment of the Supreme Court duly signed by the Peter-Odili and certified by the Registrar of the Supreme Court.
“Oye had enjoyed the recognition of INEC based on the earlier version of the judgment that contained the mistake. It is appropriate Njoku must not be denied similar recognition by the commission soon after the correction was made by the apex court.
“INEC, is advertently or inadvertently arming. Other political parties with weapons to challenge APGA victories in the 2023 general election on the ground of invalid nomination process. INEC should avoid being accused of aiding and abetting the extinction of APGA”, Okorie said.