An Abia State High Court Thursday affirmed its earlier order sacking Hon. Donatus Nwankpa as the state chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), saying that Emmanuel Ndukwe remains the authentic chairman of the party in Abia.
The APC has been mired in leadership crisis with two factions claiming supremacy. The faction that has Nwankpa as chairman is backed by the former governor of Abia, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, while the faction led by Dr Ndukwe has the blessing of Chief Ikechi Emenike, a chieftain of APC.
Nwankpa had gone to the court presided over by Justice Collinton Okoroafor seeking extension of time to vacate the court order issued on March 8, 2018, which restrained him from parading himself as the Abia APC chairman. The then national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, was also restrained from recognising Nwankpa as chairman.
But Nwankpa did not obey the court order, which he described as “kangaroo court order and a nullity”, only to go back to the same court with an application seeking to set aside the restraining order.
In his ruling, Justice Okoroafor said that the application filed for the vacation of the court order was incompetent and a nullity. He condemned the statement credited to Nwankpa in a newspaper report describing a court of competent jurisdiction as a kangaroo court and its order as a nullity.
“It is irresponsible, reprehensible, and an attempt to ridicule the court, whittle down its power,” he said, warning that no man can be allowed to bring the court to disrepute.
The learned judge noted that the failure of the defendants/applicants to appeal the court order of March 8, 2018 has made it to stand and all parties must abide by the order.
Nwankpa had through his counsel, Perfect Okorie, argued in his application that he was not aware of the court order. According to him, he was not served the court processes before the order was made and that he only became aware of the originating motion on March 28, 2018 when the restraining order was pasted at the party secretariat.
However, the court dismissed the claim, saying that it was “riddled with contradictions” since it was evident that the court bailiff had served the defendants/applicants through the clerk, Amaka Obiageli, in the party secretariat.
Justice Okoroafor held that having flouted a court order in contempt, it was not inconceivable that the defendants/applicants would come to the same court to seek an extension of time to vacate the order they had disregarded.
He awarded N200,000 cost to Nwankpa and others and adjourned the matter to September 26, 2016 during which the court would hear the application by the defendants/applicants to transfer the case to another court.
In his reaction to the ruling, the lead counsel to Ndukwe, Chief Godwin Chionye, said that the dismissal of Nwankpa’s application has nullified his pretence that he was not served the court order.