The ongoing crises orchestrated by group loyal to the suspended Deputy National Chairman (South) of the Labour Party (LP) took a new dimension, weekend, with an order of a Federal High Court Kano, sacking all Labour Party elected officials.
But legal experts and officials of the Labour Party (LP) have declared that the Friday declaration by the Federal High Court, Kano sacking Abia LP Governor-elect and others cannot stand the weight of the law.
In what some observers described as a desperate bid to derail the ongoing case at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, Apapa and his group had stormed the Abuja premises of the Court claiming to be the “authentic“ leadership of the party.
They were however, thrown out of the Court room on the orderd of Haruna Tsammani
Not done, the breakaway group approached the Federal High Court in Kano State, to invalidate all the elections won by the Labour Party in the just concluded general election.
Working in tandem with the former National Legal Adviser, Samuel Oyelekan, the group had on Wednesday, while the Presidential Appeal Tribunal was sitting in Abuja with all attentions focused on it, “clandestinely” sneaked out of Abuja to Kano State where he, in collaboration with some members of the other political parties, asked the court to invalidate all the elections won by the Labour Party, particularly, the National Assembly in the 36 states and FCT on the ground that we didn’t submit register of voters to INEC.
Acting National Publicity Secretary of the Labour Party, Obiora Ifoh, described the group as “agents of darkness, masquerading as party officials who have taken their hatchet job to a new level and will stop at nothing in doing their paymasters bid to truncate our case in various tribunal.”
He warned Nigerians to be “on the alert and join forces in ensuring that all the anti-democratic forces in our midst are subdued.”
According to him, “The leadership of the Labour Party is horrified with the judgment entered against our party by a state high court in Kano State wherein it annulled the elections of our party members into various political offices across the 36 states of the federation.
The party said it was even more concerned with the haste with which Mohammed Yunusa of Kano High Court discharged its duties as the appearance and judgment in the matter brought before it by suspended members of the party loyal to the former deputy National Chairman, Lamidi Apapa lasted only 48 hours.
The Court in Suit No FHC/KN/CS/107/2023 filed by Ibrahim Haruna Ibrahim against the Labour Party and the Independent National Electoral Commission ruled that the failure of the Labour Party to submit its membership register to the Independent National electoral commission within 30 days before their primaries renders the process invalid.
Read also: Apapa, lawyer walk out of tribunal
It also ruled that the party having not complied with the provisions of the electoral act cannot be said to have a candidate in an election and cannot be declared winner of an election.
Labour Party which is mentioned as a respondent in the case, said it “was not aware of any suit against in Kano State as the party was not served with any summons”
According to the party “The former National Legal Adviser Samuel Akingbade Oyelekan has since ceased from being an officer of the party and his appearance for the party is not with any authorisation from the leadership of the party’s National Working Committee.
“You will recall that on Wednesday, we raised an alarm that suspended National Legal Adviser Samuel Akingbade Oyelekan, while the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal was sitting in Abuja with all attentions focused on it, clandestinely sneaked out of Abuja to Kano State where he in collaboration with some members of the other political parties asked the court to invalidate all the elections won by the Labour Party, particularly, the national assembly in the 36 states and FCT on the ground that the party didn’t submit register of voters to INEC.
“The judgment is not only inconsequential but also laughable and holds no water. The court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain an election matters at a time when elections have since been concluded and winners emerged. The Kano Court is also not a tribunal which has the constitutional powers to entertain pre election matters.
“The two respondents in the matter are Labour Party and INEC. No individual is mentioned in the matter and no court can grant any relief that is not sought for. So we lose no sleep on the black market judgement as we will soon direct our lawyers to approach the Appeal Court to vacate the ill-conceived judgment.”
Labour Party also noted that it has “repeatedly raised the alarm of the plots by the opposition parties to ensure that Labour Party is engulfed in crisis,” adding that “Few weeks ago, we alerted Nigerians of plots to hijack the party and by extension, target all our cases in the tribunal. We have since produced evidences of the letters initiated by Akingbade to various tribunals asking for withdrawal of cases before them.
“For the upteempth time, Samuel Akingbade, Lamidi Apapa, Abayomi Arabambi and everyone in that camp have ceased to be representing Labour Party in whatever capacity and statement serves as a disclaimer on them and for the information of Nigerians. Today, at the At the FCT state High Court before Justice Hamza Muazu in a matter between Apapa’s group and Abure, the Judge among other things reprimanded Apapa camp for attempting to take over the leadership of the Labour party and constituting themselves into a nuisance.”
A legal practitioner, Umeh Kalu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), dismissed the Federal High Court judgment in Kano, describing it as “inconsequential.”
According to Umeh, former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, in Abia State “The judgment is inconsequential and dead on arrival.
“It is dead on arrival because Alex Otti is not a party to the suit. I have seen the judgment. You cannot make an order to anybody that is not a party before you. The issues they raised there are the same thing they raised at the tribunal.
“They said that the membership register of the Labour Party (LP) was not submitted 30 days before— and— all these issues were raised at the tribunal. Elections have come and gone; candidates accepted by INEC, elections conducted, results declared.
“Any issue that has to do with that election, the only arena for it is the election tribunal. The issue they raised is pre- election matter.
“But, even on the merit, the Kano case is dead on arrival. You cannot shave anybody’s head in his absence. Alex Otti’s name was not mentioned in that judgement even though I think he is the target.”
Citing section 251 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, an Abuja based legal practitioner, Frank Nabena of the F.B.A Nabena & Co Chambers, said the Constitution provides that the Federal High Court is one and has jurisdiction covering all parts of Nigeria.
“We have only one Federal High Court, when it comes to the issue of jurisdiction. That is why some politicians who feel unsafe prosecuting their cases in their states, can run to Abuja and any of the Federal High Courts, across the country
Nabena however, noted that the Court system is being bastardised by some Senior lawyers who use the Court to extort money from the politicians.
“That section provides that ‘notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in this constitution and in addition to such other jurisdiction as may be conferred upon it by an Act of the National Assembly, the Federal High Court shall have and exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other Court in civil causes and matters.'”
According to section 251 (2) The Federal High Court shall have and exercise jurisdiction and powers in respect of treason, treasonable felony and allied offences.
Similarly subsection (3) says the Court shall also have and exercise jurisdiction and powers in respect of criminal causes and matters in respect of which jurisdiction is conferred by subsection (1) of this section.
In section 252 (1), it says that For the purpose of excising any jurisdiction conferred upon it by this Constitution or as may be conferred by an Act of the National Assembly, the Federal High Court shall have all the powers of the High Court of a State.
“in (2) Notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section, the National Assembly may by law make provisions conferring upon the Federal High Court powers additional to those conferred by this section as may appear necessary or desirable for enabling the Court more effective to exercise its jurisdiction.
“From the above, it is assumed that the Federal High Court is assumed to be one, across the country. But I am surprised that the Labour Party lawyers did not oppose the motion in Court, because it is subject to an appeal.
“The moment an appeal is filed against the pronouncements, and served, it is an automatic for return to the statues quo ante. Even if they are not satisfied,they can still proceed to the Supreme Court.”
Also assessing the judgment, Suleiman Lamorde, a legal practitioner based in Abuja, concurred with the above position.
He disclosed that the Labour Party has to approached the Court of Appeal to vacate the judgement of the Kano Court Court.
“There have been cracks in the Labour Party with the Deputy National Chairman, South, Lamidi Apapa, working to hijack the party structure from the Julius Abure-led Executive
“They even claimed that Alex Otti, the LP Governor – elect for Abia State is not even a member of the party, but I don’t see the judgement standing when the real case is done with,” he said.
Goddy Ehimikhuai, an Adamawa-based legal practitioner, described the judgment as “portraying the extent of corruption in the judiciary.”
According to him, “This ought to have been a pre-election matter, and in any case, why Kano?
“Why was the judge so hasty in delivering such judgment without hearing from both the LP and the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC), against who the case was instituted?
He is of the belief that the case will be upturned at the Court of Appeal.
“There is a Court of Appeal in Kano and all they need to do is file the necessary papers and it will be upturned,” he said