The Federal High Court, Abuja on Friday ordered the suspended National Chairman, African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore, to stop parading himself as the party national chairman.
The judge, Inyang Ekwo, in his ruling, also validated the removal of Malcolm Fabiyi as the deputy national chairman of the party.
Mr Sowore was the presidential candidate of the AAC in the 2019 Presidential Election.
Mr Sowore, who doubled as the national chairman of AAC, was however suspended alongside Mr Fabiyi, as party’s leaders following allegations against them, while Leonard Nzenwa was appointed the acting national chair.
Mr Nzenwa had approached court to seek a legal backing on the removal of the former national leaders of the party.
Delivering judgment, Mr Ekwo held that failure of the first and second defendants to give evidence in the suit was prohibitive and fatal in every sense of it.
He held the defendants were not on ground to depose to their respective counter affidavits in opposition to the plaintiff’s originating summons.
One Joshua Adeoye, who deposed to the affidavits, told the court that the 1st and 2nd defendants had traveled outside the country before the matter was filed, and therefore was unable to depose to the counter affidavits.
However, it was the opinion of the court that the deponent was not a party in the suit, and therefore cannot be deposed an affidavit on behalf of 1st and 2nd defendants who were sues in their personal capacity.
“’Evidence of the deponent (Adeoye) goes to nothing and therefore is inadmissible in law,” he said.
According to the judge, the reasons adduced by Mr Adeoye that both defendants travelled abroad “are not tenable.”
He held the defendants did not take the legal action against them seriously.
In view of the above, Mr Ekwo stated that the defendants did not enter defence in the suit, describing the action as “unchallenged.”
“Affidavit evidence not challenged or controverted, stands admitted in law and therefore accorded probative value,” he said.
The judge noted that the defendants did not show evidence that the party was against the suit.
“It is the party that has right to seek redress in court. Absolute silence of AAC is an admission of the case of the plaintiff,” he added.
The judge said he was satisfied that the plaintiff was able to discharge the burden of proof in his case.
Consequently, Mr Ekwo granted all the reliefs sought by the plaintiff.
The court had on May 17, restrained Messrs Sowore and Fabiyi from parading themselves as national chairman and deputy chairman respectively.
In the order granted by the court, Messrs Sowore and Fabiyi were restrained from further exercising any power or function relating to the offices pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
The court granted the order after an ex parte application by the plaintiff, who is the newly sworn in acting national chairman.
By the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/512/2019, Mr Ekwo granted an interim injunction restraining the 1st and 2nd defendants, whether by themselves, agents, privies or howsoever described, from parading themselves as the national chairman and deputy national chairman (Headquarters) of the AAC or exercising any power or/and function relating to such offices pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
“An order of interim injunction is hereby made restraining the 3rd defendant (INEC) whether by itself, staff, agents, privies or howsoever described, from further recognising the chairman and deputy national chairman (Headquarters) of the African Action Congress (AAC) pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.’’
The application was filed through his lawyer, Emeka Ozani.
In addition, the court restrained INEC from further recognising the suspended Chairman, Mr Sowore, pending the determination of the motion on notice.
In the affidavit in support of the motion on notice, the party alleged that Mr Sowore failed to fulfil the mandatory statutory requirement of holding the quarterly meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party.
He was also accused of receiving money from foreign donor and used it for his personal use in contravention of the provisions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The party said in spite of appeals made to him to call for NEC meeting of the party to respond to the allegations against him, he failed to do so.
The party further said that it reached a resolution on March 27, suspending them from the party for six month.
However, counsel to the defendants, Nibere Effiong, told journalists shortly after the ruling that they would appeal the judgment.
He said though he reserved his comments on the judgment.
He however, stated that it was disheartening that the court discountenanced the evidence of his clients because they did not personally depose to the affidavit in support of their case.