Tenure Extension: Court adjourns suit against APC, Oyegun, others

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday fixed May 3 to hear a suit by a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adewale Hameed, challenging the purported tenure elongation of APC’s national officers including its chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun.

Listed as defendants are Mr Odigie-Oyegun, Segun Oni, Deputy National Chairman (South ) and Lawal Shaibu, Deputy National Chairman (North).

Others are Ibrahim Gubi, National Secretary; Pius Akinyelure, Vice-Chairman (South-west) as the fourth and fifth defendants.

APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are joined as sixth and seventh defendants respectively.

When the case was called on Friday, Muiz Banire, counsel to the APC, told the court that the sixth defendant (APC) had filed an application to set aside the service of the originating processes on them.

Banire said the order for substituted service on the sixth defendant was obtained fraudulently as the address stated on the order was wrong.

He said the address of the APC secretariat is No. 40, Blantyre St., and not No. 16, Blantyre Avenue that was stated in the order.

“The website the applicant claimed to have got the address from is not ours, a Good Samaritan brought our attention to today’s date, we are yet to receive any process.”

Banire said that they had also filed a further affidavit to prove same and attached correspondence from INEC showing their correct address.

The applicant’s counsel, Babatunde Fashanu, sought the leave of court to withdraw the motion ex-parte for substituted service on the fifth defendant (Akinyelure) that he had been served personally.

He also told the court that the applicant had filed a counter-affidavit to the sixth defendant’s (APC) motion to set aside the order.

According to him, the sixth defendant should be stopped from denying the address as the website was clearly APC website and an exhibit had been attached to prove same.

“If they were claiming the website is fake, they should have taken appropriate steps to bring down the website.”

Fashanu said moreover, the bailiff of the court had sworn to an affidavit of proof of service on oath that it was at the APC secretariat he served the processes.

In a short ruling, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, held that it was essential for proper service to be effected on the defendants.

“The website may be fake but I find no evidence of fraud, I see no reason to set aside the service, so we do not waste time; another set of processes should be served at No. 40, Blantyre Street,” she held.

Consequently, she adjourned the suit until May 3 for hearing of the originating motion.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that at a joint meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) and the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party in Abuja, the tenure of the officials was extended by one year with effect from June 30.

The applicant had on March 9 filed an originating summons, seeking the determination of the court whether the extension of the NEC and NWC elected or appointed members was constitutional.

The APC has since reversed the tenure extension, but the applicant has not withdrawn the suit.

He wants the court to determine if the defendants had the constitutional right under Section 223 of the 1999 Constitution and Articles 13 and 17 of the APC Constitution to extend the tenure of its NEC and NWC members.

At the last adjournment, the applicant’s counsel, Mr Fashanu, had moved a motion ex-parte urging the court to grant four orders pending the hearing of the substantive suit.

*An order granting leave to the plaintiff to sue the first to fifth defendants on behalf of all officers of the NEC and the NWC of the APC.

* An order granting leave to serve the first to fourth and the sixth defendants the originating summons by leaving it with the front desk officer of the sixth defendant.

* An order of interim injunction restraining the first to sixth defendants from implementing the purported tenure elongation of the presently elected organs of the APC.

* An order of interim injunction restraining the seventh defendant from recognizing the decision of the first to sixth defendants to extend its tenure beyond four years.

Justice Olatoregun had granted the first two prayers but requested the applicant to put the other defendants on notice for the last two orders.

(NAN)

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