The battle to have a valid governorship candidate for the Abia State chapter of the All Progressive Congress may have shifted to Abuja as former Minister of State for Mines, Uche Ogah, and High Chief Ikechi Emenike are parties in a pending suit before the Federal High Court Abuja division.
The two are governorship aspirants who both won parallel primary elections of the party in Abia State.
The party has been unable to present a governorship candidate due to the inability of the headquarters of the party to resolve the crisis.
Several lawsuits have been filed by both candidates to determine the actual governorship candidate of the party ahead of the 2023 general polls.
The suit in contention (SUIT NO: FHC/UM/CS/95/2022) was filed by Dr. Uche Ogah against High Chief Emenike & others and it is pending before Justice Binta Nyako of the Abuja Division of the Court.
In a letter written to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Nigeria, Justice John Tsoho on August 16, Emenike’s lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi SAN, urged the CJ to transfer the pending suit in Abuja to Abia, contending that the division in the state has requisite jurisdiction to preside over all the matters relating to the election.
However, Ogah’s counsel was said to have insisted that all pending suits relating to the election should be transferred from Umuahia Division to Abuja.
Arguing, Fagbemi explained that there were about three suits before the Umuahia court; quering the rationale behind instituting another application in Abuja.
He urged the CJ to transfer the suit to Abia especially for the sake of minimizing cost and allowing a single division determine all matters arising from the election.
The letter partly reads: “We are counsel to the 1st Defendant (hereinafter called “Our Client”) in the above-referred suit now pending before His Lordship, Honourable Justice Nyako of the Abuja Division of this Honourable Court.
“On 15th August, 2022, we received a letter from the Plaintiff’s counsel which was addressed to your Lordship but only copied to us.
“Without going into the correctness or otherwise of the content of the Plaintiff’s letter, it is obvious that Plaintiff is not aversed to a proposal whereby all the pre-election matters pertaining to Abia State gubernatorial primary election of APC will be heard together by a single judge.
“However, Plaintiff has stated further that the cases at the Umuahia Division of the court should rather be transferred to the Abuja Division to be heard with this instant action.
“My Lord, as appealing as the request of the Plaintiff is, he has failed to address a fundamental issue which is: how did this instant suit – SUIT NO: FHC/UM/CS/95/2022 -.get to Abuja in the first case, while three other suits on the same subject matter are left behind in Umuahia, Abia State? Why the isolation!
“Plaintiff has not addressed this concern. Curiously, Plaintiff is a Defendant in one of the matters left behind in Umuahia and he seemed not to care about that other matter, rather his concern is to get this instant suit moved to Abuja and same be beard in Abuja of all cost.
We have it on good authority from our client that Plaintiff applied behind the back of other Defendants,( without copying them his request to have this instant suit brought to Abuja. The approach adopted by the Plaintiff has given room for serious concern which the 1st Defendant is not in the least taking lightly.
“ My noble Lord, we are of the humble view that what is most appropriate in the circumstance of the facts placed before your Lordship is to send this isolated case back to Umuahia to be heard together with the three (3) other cases which have the same subject matter rather than move all the three (3) other cases with all the parties to Abuja and be heard with an isolated case at the Abuja Division of the Court.. Court must minimize cost of litigation.
“We therefore cannot but repeat our request that this instant suit be transferred back to Umuahia situate in Abia State and be heard together with the other three cases still pending at the Umuahia Division of the Court.
“More so this instant suit and the other three pending cases at the Umuahia Division relate to the Governorship primary election of APC in Abia State. Clearly, Umuahia Division is the appropriate forum for all the cases.”