Court Strikes Out Suit Seeking Nullification Of Labour Party’s Election
The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, has struck out a suit seeking the nullification of the primary elections of the Labour Party that produced Mr. Peter Obi and other flag bearers of the party contesting various elective offices in the 2023 general elections.
A three-man panel of the appellate court led by Justice Abraham Goergewill, in a judgment delivered last Friday, struck out the suit for want of jurisdiction. According to the panel, the internal matters of a political party are outside the jurisdiction of courts in the country, hence the suit right from the lower court lacked merit and ought to have been dismissed.
The Federal High Court, Abuja had in a ruling in the suit filed by an aggrieved former Deputy National Chairman of the Labour Party, Callistus Okafor, ordered defendants, including the Labour Party, which was the 6th defendant to file their replies to the suit within seven days.Okafor by the suit is challenging the election of the National Executive of the Labour Party.
At the Federal High Court, Abuja, where it was filed, Justice Inyang Ekwo, after assuming jurisdiction ordered defendants to file their replies within seven days. Dissatisfied, the 6th defendants approached the appellate court to challenge the order of the lower court. Delivering judgment on Friday, Justice Georgewill, held that the subject matter before the Federal High Court in Abuja was an internal affair of the political party and did not fall under the disputes that require court’s intervention.
“The claim of the 1st Respondent (Okafor) from his own showing and as endorsed by him on his Originating Summons is clearly one involving the internal affairs of the 6th Respondent, Labour Party, a registered political party in Nigeria. The claims do not at all fall within any of the ambit of the provision of the law providing for intervention by the courts,” he said.
The panel subsequently declared the claims as non-justiciable, incompetent, and without jurisdiction.The panel added that, “In law, neither are the internal affairs nor decisions of a political party, regarding strictly, the appointment or even election of their leadership the business of the courts.”
Subsequently, the appellate court set aside the ruling of the Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, in suit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/1636/2021 on June 16, 2022, wherein he assumed jurisdiction in the matter, abridged time for filing of processes to seven days, and ordered the executive of the party led by Julius Abure to file a counter affidavit in respect of the suit brought by Okafor.
The appellate court further struck out the entire suit pending before the lower court for being incompetent. A member of the National Executive Committee, NEC, Mr. Salisu Mohammed had rushed to the Court of Appeal, through the party’s lawyers Alex Ejesieme, C.S. Uzodike, E.C. Eze, and Marshal Abubakar, to file the appeal against the ruling of the high court on grounds of jurisdiction.
Okafor had earlier, through his counsel, C.J. Edemeke, sought the lower court’s order nullifying the LP national conventions of October 9, 2018; June 10, 2019; and March 29, 2021, where the new executive officers were elected.
He had sought an order appointing him as the acting National Chairman “in the absence of a national chairman,” being the duly appointed Deputy National Chairman.
Other members of the panel were Justices Olabisi Ige and Ugochukwu Ogakwu.