The Supreme Court, on Monday, set-aside an interim order of the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt, which gave the All Progressives Congress, APC, the nod to conduct its Ward, Local Government and State Congresses in Rivers State.
The apex court, in a judgment that was delivered by Justice Centus Nweze, faulted the appellate court for issuing an order for the stay of execution of a Rivers State High Court order that barred the APC from going ahead with its planned congress, pending the determination of a suit before it.
It noted that the high court had on the basis of a suit that was lodged by one Abdulahi Umar and 22 others, issued injunctive reliefs that expressesly forbade the APC from conducting congress in the state.
According to the Supreme Court, Justice Chiwendu Nwogu of the high court gave the interim order of injunction on May 11, on a day that some hoodlums loyal to a faction of the APC, besieged the high court premises in Port Harcourt. It observed that despite the attack and the restraining order from the high court, which was further reaffirmed on May 13, the APC which was a Respondent in the matter, went ahead and conducted its Ward, Local Government and State congresses on May 19, 20 and 21.
The apex court said it was baffled that the APC, “in the most impundent manner”, ran to the Court of Appeal to apply for stay of proceeding and execution of the high court order with respect to the suit marked PHC/78/2018. It observed that while the appellate court declined to stay proceedings of the high court, it however stayed the execution of the May 11 order by Justice Nwogu.
Dissatisfied with the decision, Umar and 22 other litigants who dragged APC to court over their alleged exclusion from the primaries, took the case to the Supreme Court. They argued through their lawyer, Mr. Henry Bello, that the Court of Appeal engaged in judicial rascality by refusing to abide by Supreme Court decisions on the issue of stay of execution of valid court orders.
The appellants told the apex court that the Port Harcourt Division of the Court of Appeal violated the principle of staris-decisis (judicial precedents) and accorded favourable ruling to the APC, even when it was “in grave disobedience to two orders of the lower court”. They prayed the apex court to set aside the order the Court of Appeal in respect of the case marked CA/PH/198/2018.