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Abure is authentic Labour Party national chairman, Appeal Court rules

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The Court of Appeal in Abuja has affirmed Julius Abure as the authentic national chairman of the Labour Party.

The appellate court, in a unanimous decision by a three-member panel of Justices on Wednesday, vacated an order of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, which barred the Abure-led executives from piloting the affirms of the political party.

The high court order was a fallout of a suit that was filed by the Chief Lamidi Apapa-led faction of the party.

In the ruling he delivered on April 5, 2023, Justice Hamza Muazu restrained Mr. Abure from parading himself as the National Chairman of the LP.

He equally barred Umar Farouk Ibrahim, Oluchi Opara and Clement Ojukwu, from further functioning as National Secretary, National Treasurer and National Organising Secretary of the party, restrictively, pending the determination of a suit before it.

The restraining order followed an ex-parte application that was brought before the court by eight aggrieved members of the party loyal to the Apapa faction.

Those behind the suit marked: CV/2930/2023, which has the LP as the 5th Defendant, were: Mr. Martins Esikpali John O., Lucky Shaibu, Isah Zekeri, Omogbai Frank, Abokhaiu Aliu, Ayohkaire Lateef, Job Elomah and Dr. Abayomi Arabambi.

Specifically, the plaintiffs had through their team of lawyers led by Chief James Ogwu Onoja, SAN, prayed the court to among other things, declare that, “the 1st Defendant (Abure) cannot continue to function in office as the National Chairman of the 5th Defendant as a result of his suspension by the Ward 03 Executive, Arue, Esan North East Local Government Area dated 31st March, 2023”.

They further prayed the court for; “A declaration that the 1st — 4th Defendants cannot continue to remain in office as National Chairman, National Secretary, National Treasurer and National Organising Secretary of the 5th Defendant consequent on the prima facie case of forgery, perjury and conspiracy established against them by the Commissioner of Police F.C.T and the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory pending their prosecution in court.

“A declaration that the 1st — 4th Defendants lack the moral and legal standing to continue to function in office as the National Chairman, National Secretary, National Treasurer and National Organising Secretary of the 5th Defendant having been indicted upon established prima facie case by the Commissioner of Police, F.C.T and the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

“An order directing the 1st Defendant to vacate office as the National Chairman of the 5th Defendants based on the communique issued by the Ward 03 Executive, Arue, Esan North East Local Government Area of the 5th Defendant, Edo State Chapter dated 31 st March, 2023.

“An order directing the 1st , 2nd , 3rd and 4th Defendants to vacate office as the National Chairman, National Secretary, National Treasurer and National Organising Secretary of the 5th Defendant having been indicted upon established prima facie case by the Commissioner of Police, F.C.T and the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

“An order directing the National Executive Committee and the National Working Committee of the 5th Defendant to appoint interim National Chairman, National Secretary, National Treasurer and National Organising Secretary for the 5th Defendant pending the convention of the 5th Defendant for such purpose”.

As well as, “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Defendants from henceforth parading themselves as the National Chairman, National Secretary, National Treasurer and National Organising Secretary respectively of the 5th Defendant”.

However, following the dismissal of a preliminary objection he filed to challenge the competence of the suit as well as the ex-parte orders, Abure took the case before the Court of Appeal.

Delivering judgement in the matter on Wednesday, the appellate court, in its lead decision that was read by Justice Hamma Barka, faulted the lower court which it said wrongly assumed jurisdiction in the matter.

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The appellate court held that the case of the Plaintiffs was incompetent, noting that since they raised issues that bordered on fraud and criminality, they ought to have commenced the action through a Writ of Summon which would allow the parties to call witnesses and tender relevant evidence before the court.

It maintained that Justice Muazu was wrong when he held that the case could be effectively determined through an Originating Summon.

“Unless an action is initiated by a proper process of law, the action becomes a waste of time despite how competent it may be.

“The aim of an Originating Summon is to speed up the process. But where there are serious issues of fact, it should not begin with an Originating Summon,” the appellate court held.

It further queried the statutory powers of Ward Executives of a political party to suspend National Officers of the party.

More so, the appellate court held that issues the Plaintiffs raised before the high court, bordered on the domestic affair of a political party which no court was permitted to delve into.

Aside from upholding Abure’s appeal marked: CA/ABJ/CV/559/2023, the appellate court awarded a cost of N1million against the Respondents.

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