The Court of Appeal, Abuja Judicial Division has sacked Julius Abure as the National Chairman of the Labour Party.
The court in a ruling on Thursday recognised Lamido Apapa as the authentic national chairman of the party in a ruling in a suit numbered CA/OW /200/2023 between Sir Basil Maduka as the Appellant and Labour Party, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Chief Ukaegbu Ikechukwu Joseph as the 1st to 3rd Respondents.
It is an appeal against the decision of the Federal High Court, Owerri Division, sitting at Owerri delivered on 23rd June, 2023 by Quadri J.
It was decided by a panel of judges namely Moore Aseimo A. Adumein, Joseph Olubunmi K. Oyewole and Ridwan Maiwada Abdullahi of the Court of Appeal.
The Appeal Court recognised the candidate who emerged from the governorship primary election for Imo State conducted by the Apapa-led faction, which was held on April 16, 2023, Ukaegbu Ikechukwu Joseph.
The Appellant had filed an Originating Summons at the lower court wherein he submitted the following issues for determination: whether the plaintiff is not the winner of the 1st Defendant’s (Labour Party) Governorship Primary Election conducted on Saturday 15th April 2023 by the 1st Defendant in Imo State for the 11th November 2023 Imo State Governorship election” considering the plaintiff’s membership card of the 1st Defendant and the Plaintiff’s receipt and proof of payment of N25 million fee for the 1st defendant’s Governorship Nomination and Expression of Interest forms.
The Appellant sought an order of the “Honourable Court directing the 2nd Defendant to recognize the Plaintiff and publish his name as the rightful candidate of the 1st Defendant for the Imo State Governorship election scheduled for 11th November 2023,
The action was contested by the 1st and 3rd Respondents who filed processes challenging the contentions of the Appellant. They stated that the primary election of the 1st Respondent (Lamidi Apapa-led primary) took place on the 16th April 2023 as rescheduled by the national leadership of the 1st Respondent (Labour Party) and that the Appellant was not a candidate at the said primary election which was won by the 3rd Respondent (Ukaegbu- candidate of the Apapa-led faction).
The learned trial Judge took arguments from the learned counsel for the respective sides and delivered a considered judgment as aforesaid on the 23rd June 2023 wherein the Appellant was found to lack the requisite locus stand to maintain the action upon which his suit was dismissed.
Dissatisfied, the Appellant invoked the appellate jurisdiction of this Court via a Notice of Appeal filed on the 6th July, 2023 containing three grounds.
In Thursday’s ruling, the Appeal Court held: “The issue of the absence of locus standi by the Appellant herein arose in the judgement of the lower court after both sides had placed their respective affidavit evidence before the court.
“The learned trial judge would have been remiss at that stage to ignore the affidavits and exhibits placed before the court which contradicted the posture of the Appellant.
“The Appellant failed to show that he participated in the primary election organised by the 1st Respondent (Apapa-led primary election) which was held on the 16th April, 2023 from which the 3rd Respondent (Ukaegbu) emerged as winner and cannot be heard to complain about the outcome thereof.
“I therefore agree with the lower court that the Appellant was bereft of the requisite locus standi to maintain the action and I resolved this issue against the Appellant and in favour of the 1st (Apapa-led LP faction) and 3rd Respondent (Ukaegbu).
“The remaining two issues of the Appellant have been rendered academic and shall be appropriately discountenanced.
“In totality, I find no merit in this appeal and I dismiss it accordingly.
“The court also therefore added that a cost of N250,000 is awarded in favour of the 1st and 3rd Respondents against the Appellant.”
Court documents obtained by SaharaReporters also revealed that the Appeal Court noted that at the at the “hearing of the Appeal, there were conflicting legal appearances for the 1st Respondent (Labour Party) by different legal practitioners. This necessitated a directive by the Court to the two legal practitioners involved to file any necessary process which might assist the Court in determining which of them should be accorded rights of audience in respect of the 1st (Labour Party) Respondent.
“Pursuant to the said directive, Mr P. I. Oyewole filed an affidavit of fact on August 4, 2023 with several documents attached. This was accompanied by a written address. On the other hand, Mr. Greg Anyanwu, his contender equally filed a written address on the same August 4, 2023.
“A perusal of the documents and arguments of counsel discloses that there is a leadership crisis in the 1st Respondent in respect of which the contending sides are relying on different decisions of the High Court,” the court document reads.
“In the circumstances, it is abundantly evident that Mr. P. I. Oyewole is extraneous to the present proceedings which do not have anything to do with the primary election conducted by the tendency of the leadership of the 1st Respondent he represents.
“The appropriate counsel to conduct this appeal is Mr. Greg Anyanwu who has been part of this case from inception representing the other tendency of leadership of the 1st Respondent which conducted the primary election in issue in this appeal.
“That being so, the 1st Respondent’s brief filed by Mr. P. I. Oyewole and all other processes filed by the said counsel on behalf of the 1st Respondent in this appeal shall be appropriately discountenanced in preference for those filed by Mr. Greg Anyanwu,” the document reads.