…Grants order for accelerated hearing
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA —The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, not to take any step that would affect the outcome of a suit bordering on the leadership crisis currently rocking the Labour Party.
The court, in a ruling by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, further granted an order for accelerated hearing of the suit that was filed by factional National Chairman of the party, Dr. Mike Omotosho and three others.
It held that all the parties should maintain the status quo, pending the determination of legal issues raised before the court.
Aside Dr. Omotosho, other plaintiffs in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/909/2018, are Mr. John Onyenemere and Hon. Uwazuruonye, as well as the Labour Party itself.
Cited as defendants in the matter were the INEC, Mr. Abdukadir Abdusalam and Oluchi Opara, who are the National Chairman and Treasurer of another faction of the party.
Specifically, the plaintiffs, who told the court that they sued for themselves and on behalf of National Delegates that voted for Dr. Omotosho at the 2017 Special National Convention of the party, are praying the court to among other things, determine;
*”Whether the 2nd and 3rd defendants (Abdulsalam and Opara) were validly and lawfully removed as the National Chairman and National Treasurer of the Labour Party on the grounds of gross misconduct, financial embezzlement, fraud and corruption, by the unanimous resolution of all accredited delegates at the Special National Convention of the party held on the 3rd October 2017; in view of the combined reading of section 225 (1) & (2) of the 1999 Constitution, and section 85 (1) (2) and (3) & 86 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and Articles 13 (C) and 17 of the Labour Party Constitution 2009.
*”Whether the refusal of the 1st defendant (INEC) to accord recognition and direct all official communications with Labour Party to the 4th plaintiff who was elected National Chairman at the said Special National Convention of the party held on the 3rd of October 2017; and the 1st defendant’s continued recognition of the 2nd and 3rd defendants as the National Chairman and National Treasurer of Labour Party, particularly the continues hosting of the 2nd defendant’s name in its official website is deceitful, and amounts to abuse of office, and connivance to destabilize and put the Labour Party in a state of leadership conflict, confusion, and administrative quagmire and thereby adversely affecting the interest of the plaintiffs…”
*”Whether having regard to the provisions of Section 222 (a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), read alongside sections 78(1) 85 (1) (2) and 86 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), the constitutional and statutory powers vested in the 1st defendant to register, regulate and monitor the activities of political parties in Nigeria do empower or imbue it the right, liberty or authority to unlawfully, willfully and arbitrarily, by conduct, pretence or for any reason whatsoever, to continue to accord recognition and communicate all official correspondences intended for the 3rd plaintiff to the 2nd defendant, who is the former National Chairman of the 3rdplaintiff, and who was removed from office by unanimous resolution of all delegates present at Special National Convention held on the 3rd of October 2017; in a manner that undermines the smooth and democratic running/administration of the Party, as guaranteed by the content, spirit and tenor of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Electoral Act, and Labour Party Constitution
*”Whether or not having regards to sections 78(1) 85 (1 )&(2) AND 86 (1) (2) (3)& (4) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) vesting on the 1st defendant the powers and vires to register, regulate and monitor the activities of all political parties in Nigeria, and having monitored the 3rdOctober 2017 Special National Convention of the Labour Party and issued a monitoring report signed by the three officials member monitoring team comprising of (a) Shehu Wahab DD (EPM) (b) Oni Jerome Omowaye AD (ADR) and (c) Ibrahim S. Mohammed SLO (Legal services); the 1st Defendant ought to in any manner, pretence, or for any reason whatsoever continue to accord recognition and direct official communications to the previous Executive Committee of the Labour Party led by the 2nd defendant, who were lawfully removed from office at the said Special Convention”.
Following a motion for interim orders of injunction that the plaintiffs filed through their lawyer, Mr. Okere Kingdom, Justice Dimgba ordered all the parties to refrain from any action that would render the outcome of the suit nugatory.