Peter A, Abuja.
The Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday validated the suspension of Omoyele Sowore as the National Chairman of the African Action Congress, and Malcom Fabiyi as the Deputy National Chairman.
Delivering judgment, Justice Inyang Ekwo, also affirmed the appointment of Dr. Leonard Nzewa as the Acting National Chairman of the party.
The judge granted all the prayers contained in the suit which was instituted by Nzewa seeking the validation of the decision of the party’s National Executive Committee to suspend Sowore and Fabiyi for six months at its meeting held on March 27, 2019.
Sowore, the publisher of online news medium, Saharareporters, and the party’s presidential candidate for the February 23, 2019 election, was suspended along with Fabiyi and others for allegedly engaging in anti-party activities.
But the judge, in dismissing Sowore and Fabiyi’s objection to the suit, held that they failed to personally depose to the counter-affidavit filed against the suit.
The judge held that the deposition made on their behalf by Dr. John Adeoye “goes to nought” as he was not a party to the suit.
The judge ruled, “It is my opinion that Dr. John Adeoye is not a party in this case and cannot give evidence.
“I find that the evidence of Dr. John Adeoye goes to nought.”
Noting that it was an elementary principle of law that only a party to a case could depose to affidavit evidence in defence of his or her case, the judge ruled that the reasons given by Sowore and his deputy for their inability to depose to the affidavit evidence as untenable.
According to Adeoye, who deposed to the counter-affidavit, both Sowore and Fabiyi were unable to depose to the counter-affidavit personally because they were outside the country when the suit was filed.
But the judge ruled that the reasons given by the defendants showed that they did not take the case seriously.
“Anybody who does not take a suit instituted against him seriously must prepare to bear the brunt of his carelessness,” the judge ruled.
The judge also noted that the Independent National Electoral Commission did not file any defence to the case.
“I find that the evidence of the plaintiff has not been challenged or controverted, I thereby ascribe probative value to it,” the judge ruled.
He added, “On the whole, the case ought to succeed and I so hold.”
He went on to grant all the prayers in the originating summons.
Reacting to our correspondent’s inquiry, Sowore said in a message on Friday, “We’ve commenced the process of appeal already. The judgment won’t stand.”