•Chioma is interim chairman
The Igo Aguma-led All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State has rejected the Court of Appeal’s judgment which set aside the High Court decision which declared Aguma chairman of the caretaker committee.
The Appeal Court in Abuja set aside the June 2020 judgment of Justice George Omereji of the State High Court, Port Harcourt, that affirmed Aguma as chairman of the caretaker committee.
It also affirmed Isaac Abbot Ogbobula as chairman of the caretaker committee.
The faction appointed Aguma’s deputy, Ben Chioma, to act temporarily as committee chairman pending the completion of its appeal at the Supreme Court.
A statement by Aguma’s media adviser, Livingstone Wechie, described the judgment as unacceptable. He said the party would appeal at the Supreme Court.
According to Wechie, the court erred in its decision to rule on the matter that was already a subject of appeal at the Supreme.
He said: “We have always known this fact and, it is undisputable that the case, being a pre-election matter, has been challenged at the Supreme Court.
“Being a pre-election matter therefore, the Appeal Court had no jurisdiction to hear the APC appeal ab initio. The appeal was filed in July as an afterthought by the National Caretaker Committee, after the Adams Oshiomhole-led Committee which accepted the judgment and communicated same to Aguma on June 23 had been dissolved in defiance to the National Executive Committee (NEC) directive.
“The 1999 Constitution as amended makes it clear that pre-election matters are to be filed within 14 days. The APC appeal is clearly over a month after the judgment was given and as such the Appeal Court had no jurisdiction to hear it in the first instance.
“This is our case. In fact the Supreme Court has been asked in the earlier appeal by Ogbobula to determine whether this is a pre-election matter. In line with judicial procedures, there is an Affidavit of Facts before the Appeal Court in respect of the appeals pending at the Supreme Court but the Appeal Court in its wisdom chose to go ahead anyways….”
“This judgment is strange and shall be further tested at the Supreme Court because as the bonafide leadership of the APC in Rivers State, we shall not allow our party be denied justice because the law is trite and in our favour.”
Chioma urged party members to remain calm and wait for the decision of the apex court. He, however, said APC must be on the ballot for the local government elections.
He said: “We have been briefed on the Court of Appeal judgment and I urge party faithful in to remain calm and resolute as we have already instructed our lawyers to appeal the judgment at the Supreme Court while we continue with our preparations for the 2021 local government elections. APC must be on the ballot and there is no going back.”