LP Leadership Tussle: A’Court Voids Order Restraining Abure as National Chairman 

Alex Enumah in Abuja 

The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal, on Wednesday, nullified the order of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), restraining Julius Abure from acting as the National Chairman of the Labour Party (LP).

A three-member panel of the appellate court, in a judgment delivered by Justice Hamman Barka, voided the order of the trial court on grounds that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit in the first place, on the grounds that issues bordering on leadership of a political party are outside the jurisdiction of courts.

Justice Hamza Muazu of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), while ruling in an exparte application in July 2023, issued an order temporarily restraining Abure from parading himself as the National Chairman of the LP.

Besides Abure, other national executive members of the LP restrained by Justice Muazu include: the National Secretary, Farouk Ibrahim; National Organizing Secretary, Oluchi Opara and National Treasurer, Clement Ojukwu.

Dissatisfied, Abure had approached the appellate court to challenge the decision of the trial court.

Delivering judgment in the appeal on Wednesday, the appellate court held that the case of the appellant was meritorious and subsequently allowed it.

The appellate court in the judgment held that the issue of leadership of a political party is strictly an internal affair which courts lack jurisdiction to entertain..

Justice Barka, besides, stated that ward executives lacked the powers to remove national executives duly elected at a party’s convention, hence the plaintiffs, who originally filed the suit at the lower court, lacked the legal powers to do so.

The appellate court subsequently set aside the restraining order against Abure and other national executive members on the grounds that the trial court was wrong in assuming jurisdiction on the matter.

“The judgment of the lower court is hereby set aside,” the court held and awarded a cost of N1 million in favour of the appellant.

The plaintiffs: Martins Esikpali John, Lucky Shaibu, Idah Zekeri, Omogbai Frank, Abokhaiu Aliu, Ayokhaire Later, Job Elomah and Dr. abayomi Arabambi, had dragged Abure and the other defendants to court over alleged acts of corruption.

They specifically prayed the court to stop the defendants from further acting on behalf of the LP, pending the hearing and determination of the suit challenging their continued stay in office over allegations of corruption.

The plaintiffs had accused them of forgery, perjury, unlawful and fraudulent replacement of party’s candidates in the 2022 general election.

Specifically, the claimants accused the defendants of forging court documents including receipts and seal of the FCT High Court, which they had allegedly used in the substitutions of LP’s candidates in the 2023 general election.

They had informed the judge that the chief registrar of the court, upon enquiry, wrote the LP to disclaim several documents used for the alleged criminal activities by the defendants.

The plaintiffs further claimed that the police have already indicted the defendants and are in the process of arresting them for prosecution.

They added that with their indictment for criminal activities, the four principal officers lacked vires, moral and legal standing to lead the party as their continued stay in office would continue to damage the reputation, integrity and goodwill of the party.

Among the exhibits attached to the ex-parte application are Certified True Copy ( CTC) of the police report, CTC of the letter by the Chief Registrar of the FCT High Court disclaiming documents used by the four principal officers to carry out the alleged unlawful substitutions of candidates.

Besides, the claimants in a 31-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Dr Arabambi, claimed that following a vote of no confidence passed on the defendants by their various ward executives over the above allegations, their membership of the party have since been suspended.

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