Justice Hamza Muazu of the High Court in Abuja on Friday declared that the court possesses the authority to consider legal actions initiated by certain members of the Labour Party.
A suit filed by the party is seeking the removal of the party’s chairman, national organising secretary, and national treasurer, respectively, Julius Abure, Clement Ojukwu, and Oluchi Opara, NAN reports.
Justice Muazu held that it is no longer the law that the court cannot adjudicate in political parties’ matters.
The judge further held that if the party had been at peace with itself, there would not be any need for the court to interfere in its affairs.
“When there is no crack on the wall, there will not be a need for an outsider to come to mend it,” he said.
Muazu 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 plaintiffs’ locus standi 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.
Following the April 5 ex-parte injunction by Justice Muazu stopping Abure, Farouk and two other national officials, Ejesieme argued on April 20 that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
The senior advocate submitted that the matter before the court bordered on 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 refer 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.”
Counsel for the plaintiffs, George Ibrahim, urged the court to dismiss the preliminary objection raised by counsel for the defendants.
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.
With the ruling of the court, on having jurisdiction to hear the case, its order of April 5 subsists.
The judge adjourned until May 19 to hear the substantive case.
The eight plaintiffs in the case are Martins Esikpali John, Lucky Shaibu, Isah Zekeri, Omogbai Frank, Abokhaiu Aliu, Ayohkaire Lateef, John Elomah and Dr Ayobami Arabambi.
The plaintiffs, 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 a police investigation, the four people are to be arraigned in court, adding that warrants for their arrest have already been obtained.
Reacting to the court’s ruling in an interview with journalists, the acting National Chairman of the 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 the Labour Party.
Apapa, subsequently, directed all the party’s lawyers handling its election petition before the presidential election petition court to come and brief him within 48 hours on the processes so far.