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Court assumes jurisdiction to hear suit seeking LP chairman, Abure, others’ removal

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JUSTICE Hamza Muazu of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), sitting in Maitama, Abuja, on Friday held that the court has jurisdiction to entertain a suit brought by some members of the Labour Party (LP) seeking the removal of the chairman of the party, Julius Abure and three other national officers of the party.

Ruling on the preliminary objection brought by the suspended Abure and National Secretary of the party, Alhaji Farouk Ibrahim, saying that the court lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate on the suit, Justice Muazu held that it was no longer the law that the court cannot adjudicate in parties’ matters.

The judge held that if the party had been in peace with itself, there would not be any need for the court to interfere in its affairs, saying, “When there is no crack on the wall, there will not be need for an outsider to come mend it.”

Muazu further held that the plaintiffs’ case is justiciable, contrary to the submission of the counsel for Abure and Farouk, Alex Ejesieme (SAN), adding that they are 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 Labour Party, they have the locus standi to institute the case.

Following the April 5 ex-parte injunction made by Justice Muazu, stopping Abure, Ibrahim and two other national officers of the party, the National Organising Secretary, Mr Clement Ojukwu and National Treasurer, Oluchi Opara, from parading themselves as LP national officers, Ejesieme had 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.

Ejesieme 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 have a duty to present their membership cards to the court which they didn’t.”

While objecting to the preliminary objection raised by the counsel for Abure and Ibrahim, counsel for the plaintiffs, 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.

With the ruling of the court on having jurisdiction to hear the case, its order of April 5 subsists.

The court subsequently adjourned till May 19 to hear the substantive case.

Meanwhile, Abure has said that he will appeal the ruling of FCT High Court’s refusal to decline jurisdiction over allegation of forgery preferred against him by the Lamidi Apapa faction locked in the leadership crisis in the party.

Abure, who said he does not believe he will get justice in the Justice Hamza Muazu court, said an appeal court would give the LP and himself justice over the matter.

The embattled LP national chairman told a civil society group and a supporter of the party, Country Director, Vote Must International Initiative, Dr Barry Avotu Jonson, who led his members on a solidarity visit to the LP headquarters  that “we have obeyed the court restraining order and by today, the court gave a ruling, assuming jurisdiction.

“I need to make it abundantly clear that the substantive matter has not started. There was a preliminary objection to the jurisdiction of the court and the court today assumed jurisdiction.

“For me, I am ready to go for an appeal. In the next few hours, we will be submitting our notice of appeal to the court and we will move all the matter from that court and take it to the Court of Appeal.”

“I believe that I will get justice in the Court of Appeal. I believe that Labour Party will get justice in the court of Appeal, the Labour Party, National Chairman stated

Abure indicted the Judge for court decisions which are inconsistent with law have been overturned by the Supreme Court.

His words: “This same court in FCT in 2023 in the case of Sulieman v APC, did the same thing and the Law Report decided by the Supreme Court made it very clear that the court has no jurisdiction over such matter.

“That is where we are standing and we believe that whatever the court has said today can’t stand before the court of Appeal. I believe that the court of Appeal will do the right thing and therefore all our papers will be filled today and by Monday the appeal will commence.

“So, I want to assure all our supporters, all our members that they should remain calm, I remain the National Chairman of the Labour Party.

“Labour party is a democratic institution and you don’t use coup d’ tat to grab leadership, you don’t use the back door to take over the leadership of the party. That is what Apapa and co tried to do.

“Though we understand them because they have been paid by their paymasters, if you look at the statement they made today, they are talking about the tribunal.

Whatever they say is about the tribunal, and it is no longer news that these disgruntled Labour Party members have been paid to truncate the cases in tribunal.

“They are only satisfying their paymasters and so we urge all our members to disregard them.

“We all know how to remove the National Chairman, and how a new one can be elected. So it unfortunate that this group of people found themselves in the Labour Party.  The time has come for us to separate the wheat from the chaff.

“The party was a small party and because we want to have numbers, we accommodated all forms of charlatans and dubious people into the party.

“These are people who didn’t offer anything to the party. Apapa scored zero in Oyo state in the Presidential election. Arabambi who is claiming to be the Publicity Secretary scored zero in Ogun state in the presidential election. They even supported other candidates from other parties. In Edo, I scored 79 percent of the votes in the presidential election. I ensured that APC and PDP did not get 25 percent in that election.

“In the governorship election and House of Assembly election, in spite of the dollars and harassment that were deployed by the PDP government, I am the only national chairman that won my ward.

“My performances as the national chairman of this party is in no doubt. I inherited a party that was in arears of salary payment, a party that has no image and today I have made the party number one party in Nigeria.

“In this party, I have paid my dues. I have been here for 20 years building this party and today I challenge all other national chairmen of other parties, none of them have performed more than me and the records are clear. So these hirelings to say they want to take over the party, we laugh at them.

“I urge Nigerians to ignore them because whatever information they are getting from them are fake news.

I want to reassure you that we are in control and I remain the national chairman. I assure you that we continue to provide leadership. Our cases in court, we will continue to defend them. Our House of Reps and senatorial cases, we will continue to defend to the end and our presidential election tribunal we will defend to the end. No amount of distraction will stop us from attaining our aspirations.

“I listened to you clearly, you are dreaming for a new Nigeria, and I want to say it clearly, no one, no amount of intimidation, harassment, no amount of hundreds of Apapas can stop an idea whose time has come.

“Time has come for Nigeria to take back their country, the time has come for Labour Party to take over the presidency of this country and nothing will stop us.

Leader of the delegation of supporters and Country Director of Vote Must International Initiative said their mission was to come and thank the embattled Chairman of Labour Party for keeping the party together in spite of the series of intimidation and harassment from the ruling All Progressives Congress.

He told Abure that because he was elected, the party members and supporters will continue to stand by the party and Abure.

He said “We know the target of this political touts and their plots to truncate the mandates given to our presidential candidate Peter Obi will not be accepted.”

Another member of the delegation, Amb. Ayo Ogedengbe of the Trustee Vote must count international initiative also said that the international community is behind the party and the crisis in the party will soon be a thing of the past.

He pointed out that, “We believe you will come out stronger and will lead the party to the presidency by God’s grace, he concluded.



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