An appeal court sitting in Port Harcourt has held that Henry Bello remains as the authentic counsel of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the appeal filed by the Rivers State African Action Congress (AAC) Governorship Candidate, Biokpomabo Awara in the march 2019 governorship elections in Rivers state.
The AAC Governorship Candidate, Biokpomabo Awara through his counsel, Taiwo Taiwo (SAN) in suit no. CA/PH/PHT/356/2019 asked the Court of Appeal to stop Henry Bello from representing the AAC in the Governorship Election Petition tribunal.
In a judgment delivered by Justice Hamma Barka, struck out the AAC interlocutory appeal on the grounds that the appellant has no locus standi to file the appeal as he is no longer the counsel to AAC emphasizing that AAC has right to change its counsel based on the judgement of the Federal High Court which recognized Leonard Nzenwa as the National Chairman of the party.
Counsel to INEC, Sir Steve Adave (SAN), after the ruling said the decision of the Court of Appeal has laid to rest the issue of representation in the suit filed by the State AAC Governorship Candidate.
Counsel to the AAC, Henry Aleruchi of Henry Bello Chambers,who is the beneficiary of the judgement said that the party sacked Omoyele Sowore and elected Leonard Nzenwa who subsequently appointed Henry Bello as the authentic counsel of the party.
He said that the ruling of the Court of Appeal is in consonance with the constitution, which gives the individuals the right to choose their counsels.
Mark Agwu, who spoke on behalf of Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), counsel to Governor Nyesom Wike , said the ruling has proved that the appeal is a mere academic exercise and lacks merit.
he said “The genesis of the issue was that the petition was filed by the Chamber of Taiwo E. Taiwo representing both petitioners but in course of the processing’s the AAC decided to debrief the chambers of Taiwo E Taiwo and engage the chambers of H A Bello to represent it. In the course of that HA Bello fulfilled the condition as the new counsel to AAC as a party.
‘After that Taiwo brought an application asking court to set aside the change of counsel filed by HA Bello after hearing the argument, the tribunal came to the decision that the party deserve its right to engage counsel of his choice, that is sacrosanct and nobody can change it. Preliminary objection was raised to the effect that AAC now having changed their counsel Taiwo now lacks locus standi to represent it”
He said that the Court of Appeal has confirmed the ruling of the Federal High Court that Leonard Nzenwa is the National Chairman of the AAC
Counsel to Biokpomabo Awara, Defeated AAC governorship candidate, Mr David Adebe of the Taiwo and Taiwo Chambers, said they will study the judgment and decide on the next line of action.
“The court in their opinion said they did not agree with our view but by the time our principals consult with the client, then they will decide which way forward”, he said.