By Edith Nwapi
Abuja – The bid by Julius Abure, Clement Ojukwu and Oluchi Opara, the National Chairman, National Organising Secretary, and National Treasurer of Labour Party (LP ) respectively to reverse their sack by High Court of Federal Capital Territory failed on Friday.
The Court had in an ex-parte injunction granted on 5 April suspended Abure and the other national officers of the party from office in a suit filed by Martins Esikpali John; Lucky Shaibu; Isah Zekeri; Omogbai Frank; Abokhaiu Aliu; Ayohkaire Lateef; John Elomah and Dr Ayobami Arabambi.
They had in an ex-parte motion, marked M/7082/2023, sought the removal of Abure and the three other national officers of the party.
They informed the court, through their counsel, Ogwu Onoja SAN, that Abure and the three other national officials allegedly forged several documents of the FCT High Court, including receipts, seal and affidavits, to carry out unlawful substitutions in the last general election.
Onoja argued that following their indictment by police investigation, the four people are to be arraigned in court, adding that warrants for their arrest have already been obtained.
However, Alex Ejesieme, the counsel to Abure had in an application filed on April 20 argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
The senior advocate had submitted that the matter before the court bordered on the internal affairs of the Labour Party, adding that criminal allegations made by the plaintiffs in the case, could not be ventilated in an origination summon.
He added that the eight plaintiffs that brought the case before the court were not members of the National Executive Council of the party and as such lacked the locus standi to institute the case.
“Our contention is very clear that those criminal allegations cannot be ventilated in an origination summon.
“The issue of locus standi is there. When you referred to LP’s constitution, the claimants are not members of NEC or the party.
“They have a duty to present their membership cards to the court which they didn’t,” the counsel argued.
While objecting to the preliminary objection raised by the counsel for Abure and Farouk, counsel for the plaintiffs, Mr George Ibrahim, urged the court to dismiss same.
According to him, the first to fourth defendants had yet to obey the April 5 order of the court as they were still parading themselves as national officers of the LP.
However, in the ruling it delivered on Friday, the court held that it has jurisdiction to entertain suit filed by the members of the Labour Party (LP) seeking the removal of the chairman of the party
While asserting jurisdiction over the matter, Justice Justice Hamza Muazu held that it was no longer the law that the court cannot adjudicate in matters involving political parties.
Justice Hamza Muazu said there would have been no need for interference in the affairs of the party by the court if it had been at peace with itself.
“When there is no crack on the wall, there will not be need for an outsider to come mend it,” he said.
He further held that the plaintiffs’ case is justiciable contrary to the submission of the counsel for Abure and Farouk, Alex Ejesieme, SAN.
He added that the plaintiffs were equally right to have instituted the case through originating summons.
On the issue of locus standi of the plaintiffs to bring the matter before the court, the judge held that being members of the LP, they have the locus standi to institute the case.
The judge adjourned until May 19 to hear the substantive case.
With the ruling of the court on having jurisdiction to hear the case, its order of April 5 suspending Abure and others from office subsists.
Reacting to the court’s ruling in interview with journalists, the acting National Chairman of Labour Party, Alhaji Bashir Apapa, said that justice had taken its natural course, saying that the judge acted in line with true justice.
According to him, with this ruling, there is no doubt that I am in charge. As of today, I am the acting National Chairman of Labour Party.
Apapa subsequently directed all the party’s lawyers handling its election petition before the presidential election petition court, to within 48 hours come and brief him on the processes so far. NAN/vitalnewsngr.com)
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