From Olalekan Awojodu, Abuja
The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, at the weekend struck out a suit by an aggrieved former deputy national chairman of the Labour Party (LP), Callistus Okafor challenging the election of the party leadership.
Led by Justice Biobele Abraham Georgewill, the three-man appellate court 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 justices delivered the judgment on Friday.
“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 appellate court, which also had Justices Olabisi Ige and Ugochukwu Anthony Ogakwu as members, 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 Barrister 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, Comrade Salisu Mohammed had rushed to the Court of Appeal, through the party’s lawyers Alex Ejesieme, SAN, 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 Esq., 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.
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