Some eminent lawyers in Lagos State have expressed mixed reactions to the Court of Appeal’s decision, which nullified the removal of Chief Victor Umeh as the National Chairman of the All Peoples Grand Alliance.
A former Chairman of APGA, Jude Okuli, had challenged Umeh’s continuous stay in office as chairman, after the purported expiration of his tenure.
Justice Innocent Umezulike, the Chief Judge, Enugu State High Court, had in February made an order restraining Umeh from parading himself as National Chairman of the party.
Umezulike held that his continuous stay in office was unconstitutional and illegal.
The Enugu division of the Court of Appeal, however, upturned the verdict of the lower court, holding that the plaintiff (Okuli), who instituted the suit lacked the legal right to do so.
A Lagos-based lawyer, Fred Agbaje, in his reaction, lauded the decision of the appellate court, noting that the verdict had renewed the people’s confidence in the rule of law.
Agbaje, however, expressed dissatisfaction at the attitude of some party chairmen, whom he said exhibited unwholesome habits by perpetuating themselves in office, after the expiration of their tenure.
He said: “I do not fancy the present political tangle ongoing in APGA.
“Why must political parties always resort to the courts on issues that should be settled internally?
“Political parties must desist from washing their dirty linen in public, and party chairmen must shun all forms of ‘Mugabeism’ and the quest to perpetuate themselves in office.
“In all, I am happy that the judiciary one way or the other, had to intervene to restore sanity to the system, but I think party chairmen should learn to abide by the provisions of the law establishing the parties.”
Also speaking on the issue, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa said the decision of the appellate court was indeed commendable.
Adegboruwa said: “The decision of the appellate court is a re-affirmation of Umeh’s candidature.
“I believe that this judgment is in line with the due process of law, the Constitution and the Electoral Act.
“The issue of leadership of political parties is the prerogative of the officers of that party and there is the need for the maintenance of party discipline.
“It is not necessary to do the bidding of political parties before one can become an officer of that party.”
A former President, Nigerian Bar Association, Rotimi Akeredolu, said he was certain that the court had a good reason for arriving at its decision.
Akeredolu, however, said he would comment appropriately on the issue, after he had carefully reviewed the judgment of the court.
In the same vein, Femi Falana told NAN that he had yet to see a copy of the court’s judgment and so was not in a position to make any comment on the matter.