The Supreme Court on Monday set aside the ruling of the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt Division, which vacated a stay order made by a Rivers High Court against the conduct of All Progressives Congress congresses in the state.
Delivering the ruling on the interlocutory appeal, Justice Centus Nweze held that the decision of the Court of Appeal was in error.
Nweze said the lower court was compelled to be guided by the judgments of the apex court, adding that the panel had to follow the law before arriving on its decision.
“This court is the highest and final court of decision in Nigeria. All other courts must abide by decisions from here. Failure to do this amounts to gross misconduct by judges.
“I hereby make an order setting aside the ruling of the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt which vacated the stay order made by a State High Court in this matter,’’ he said.
The judge held that the respondent (APC) was in contempt when some of its members invaded the court and disrupted the peace of the court during proceedings.
According to him, it is against known procedure of court for such a party to approach an appellate court to be granted any prayers in a matter for which it is in contempt.
“The action and attitudes displayed by members and agents of the respondent are complete affront on the judiciary and would not be condoned,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Ibrahim Umar and 12 other members of the APC had approached the apex court challenging the decision of the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt.
The appellants had initially instituted a case in the Rivers State High Court challenging their exclusion from the party congresses.
They prayed the court for a stay in the conduct of the congresses pending the determination of the substantive suit.
Aggrieved by the action, a faction of the APC approached the appellate court where the stay order was set aside, thereby giving the party the freeway to conduct the congresses.
Meanwhile, Justice Chinwendu Nworgu, on October 11 had delivered judgment on the substantive suit, where the court voided the list of candidates and sacked the state APC executive.
Nwogu said actions taken by the APC during the pendency of the suit had been set aside because they were illegal and unconstitutional.
The judge held that all those who purchased nomination forms for the ward congresses were entitled to contest the ward congresses of May 19, but were unjustly excluded by the party.
Nworgu also set aside all the primaries of the Rivers APC, including the indirect election that produced Mr. Tonye Cole, as the governorship candidate.
NAN recalls that the suit allegedly stemmed from the crisis between the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; and Senator Magnus Abe, an acclaimed governorship candidate of the party over the leadership of the party.