Court upturns Imo APC ward congress, orders fresh exercise, Okorocha hails judgment

Governor Okorocha of Imo State.
A Federal High Court sitting in Owerri on Thursday nullified the All Progressives Congress (APC), ward congress held in the electoral wards in Imo on May 5, 2018, before the national convention. The ruling on the ward congress affected the outcome of the Local Government Congress.
Reacting to the judgment, the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, in a statement immediately issued and signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, hailed the judgment, stressing that it is a vindication of his earlier assertion.
In his ruling, Justice Lewis Allagoa, ordered that the APC should be responsible and save Nigeria’s democracy in conducting free and fair congress.
He ruled: “Be responsible, save our democracy by conducting free and fair congresses in Imo state.”
The court also dismissed a motion filed by the defendants, ruling that it had jurisdiction to entertain the matter, stressing that from the exhibits available to the court, there was no ward congress in the state as claimed by the respondents, affirming the plaintiffs tendered exhibits that convinced the court.
Allagoa held “press interview between the state commissioner of police ,the state governor, Rochas Okorocha and senator Osita Izunaso ,that there was no APC ward congress in Imo state on may 5, was justiciable in law.”
The report of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the court ruled, confirmed that there was no APC ward congress in the state on May 5, 2018.
He ordered: ” APC should go and be responsible and save our democracy. The defendants and the plaintiffs are members of the same political party ,APC .There is no victor,no vanquished. “
The plaintiffs, faction loyal to Governor Rochas Okorocha, in a suit FHC/OW/CS/69/2018, had approached the court, seeking ” a declaration that the ward congress of the APC in Imo state which was fixed for May 5, was inconclusive and did not hold ,since there was no result therefrom.”
“A declaration that since the ward congress was not concluded and the result declared ,the defendants cannot organise ,conduct or hold LGA congress or any other congress flowing from it as it is only the delegates that will participate in the other congresses.
“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 respondents in the suit were Senator Osita Izunaso, Hilary Eke, the INEC and others.
In his reaction, the governor said: “The governor of Imo state Owelle Rochas Okorocha has hailed the Federal High Court judgment confirming that there was no Congress of All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state and then ruled that the congresses should be conducted in line with the provisions of the party’s constitution.
“The governor remarked that the Judgment of the Court on the issue of APC congresses in Imo has only authenticated his sustained claim and that of patriotic leaders of APC in Imo that the congresses did not hold in the state with a lot of proofs to that effect.
“The governor argued that the judiciary has remained not only the last hope of the common man, but also the last hope of institutions and processes especially as they concern our democracy.
“The governor regretted that the former National officers of the party, had, for one reason or the other decided to mess up the congresses that would have taken place in the state and had also ignored his genuine concern and repeated appeal that the congresses should be conducted to enable party members in the state fully participate and elect officials of their choice.
“He said Imo is the only APC state in the South-East and should have been encouraged to have successful congresses, to show good example to other states in the geo-political zone but regretted that those who had the task of conducting free and fair congresses decided to submerge the whole venture for their selfish agenda.
“The governor commended members of APC in the state for remaining calm and steadfast for all the time the controversies over the congresses were on and noted that the court has restored the desire of party members to elect officers of their choice at all levels in the state.
He said APC in Imo won’t tolerate those undue manipulations of electoral processes and alluded that anybody determined to play his or her politics in APC must do so in line with the provisions of the party’s constitution and also in line with approved democratic culture and practices.