According to NAN reports, Justice Hamza Muazu of the High Court in Abuja ruled on Friday that he has the jurisdiction to hear the case filed by some members of the Labour Party (LP) seeking the removal of the party’s chairman, national organizing secretary, and national treasurer, namely Julius Abure, Clement Ojukwu, and Oluchi Opara.
The judge stated that it is no longer a law that the court cannot adjudicate in political parties’ matters and further added that the court would not have intervened if the party had been at peace.
“When there is no crack on the wall, there will not be a need for an outsider to come to mend it,” he said.
Contrary to the submission of Alex Ejesieme, SAN, counsel for Abure and Farouk, Justice Muazu held that the plaintiffs’ case is justiciable. The judge also stated that the plaintiffs were justified in instituting the case through originating summons. Regarding the plaintiffs’ locus standi to bring the matter before the court, the judge held that as members of the LP, they have the required standing to institute the case.
On April 20, Ejesieme argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter, citing the April 5 ex-parte injunction by Justice Muazu stopping Abure, Farouk, and two other national officials. The senior advocate argued that the matter before the court concerns the internal affairs of the Labour Party.
He said: “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 must present their membership cards to the court, which they didn’t.”
Counsel for the defendants raised a preliminary objection which George Ibrahim, counsel for the plaintiffs, urged the court to dismiss. Ibrahim stated that the first to fourth defendants had yet to comply with the April 5 order of the court, as they were still presenting themselves as national officers of the LP.
With the court’s ruling on jurisdiction, the April 5 order of the court remains in effect. The judge adjourned the case until May 19 to hear the substantive matter. The case has eight plaintiffs, including Martins Esikpali John, Lucky Shaibu, Isah Zekeri, Omogbai Frank, Abokhaiu Aliu, Ayohkaire Lateef, John Elomah, and Dr. Ayobami Arabambi.
In an ex-parte motion marked M/7082/2023, the plaintiffs sought the removal of Abure and the three other national officers of the party.
According to their counsel, Ogwu Onoja, SAN, the eight plaintiffs alleged that Julius Abure and the three other national officials of the party forged several documents of the FCT High Court, including receipts, seals, and affidavits, to carry out unlawful substitutions in the last general election.
Onoja further argued that a police investigation had indicted the four people, and were to be arraigned in court, adding that warrants for their arrest had already been obtained.
Following the court’s ruling, the acting National Chairman of the Labour Party, Alhaji Bashir Apapa, reacted to the judgment in an interview with journalists, saying that justice had taken its natural course and 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 the Labour Party.