By Joshua Chibuzo Andrew, Owerri
The National Working Committee NWC of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC has threatened to expel one of its members and National Vice Chairman, Northwest, Salihu Moh. Lukman for dragging the National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu and National Secretary, Senator Iyiola Omisore to court over their failure to convene meetings of the relevant party organs as mandated by its Constitution.
This was contained in a “legal opinion” sighted newsmen which was dispatched to the duo of Adamu and Omisore as well as other NWC members by the National Legal Adviser, Ahmad Usman El- Marzuq Esq., and dated 28th April, 2023.
Lukman had given a seven-day ultimatum to Adamu to commence efforts to convene a meeting of the National Executive Committee NEC where he (Adamu) will give a financial account of the party.
He however threatened to institute a lawsuit against Adamu should he fail to do the needful within the stipulated timeframe.
He also wrote President Muhammadu Buhari, explaining his reasons for dragging the duo to court, saying he was left with no option as they failed to heed his call to be guided by the party’s constitution.
247ureports.com gathered that the issue would form part of deliberations at Wednesday’s meeting of the NWC.
Meanwhile, in his legal opinion, El- Marzuq said he had painstakingly gone through the reliefs sought and the affidavit in support of the Plaintiff’s Originating Summons with a fine-tooth comb and it is his opinion that the suit borders mainly on the internal or domestic affairs of the Party which has been held in a plethora of decided cases to be non-justiciable.
He said; “In the case of WAZIRI v. PDP & ANOR (2022) LPELR-58803(CA), it was held thus:
“It is settled law that, no Court has the jurisdiction to hear and determine complaints or matters pertaining to intra-party disputes of political parties. It has long been settled by the Supreme Court in Onuoha v. Okafor & Ors. (1983) 14 NSCLR 494 at 499 – 507 that, where the relief sought is on leadership of or intra-party dispute between members of same political party or between a member or and the political party, only the party can resolve the dispute.
“This is because, a political party is a voluntary organization or association. Persons join political parties of their own choice, therefore, where there is any internal disagreement, it must be resolved by a majority decision of the members. That being so, any dispute over its internal affairs is not justiciable and no Court has jurisdiction to entertain an claim on such dispute.’
Citing several other cases, he said issues bordering on the management of political parties have equally been held to be outside the jurisdiction of the Courts.
He stated, in the affidavit in support of the Originating Summons, Lukman made heavy weather about the fact that the meeting of the National Executive Committee ought to be held every quarter in accordance with the provisions of the Party’s Constitution and that the failure to do has greatly affected the smooth administration of the Party.
“However, a cursory look at Article 25.2 (i) of the Party’s Constitution would reveal that it is not mandatory to convene a meeting of the National Executive Committee every quarter as postulated by the Plaintiff rather it is at the discretion of the National Working Committee or at the request in writing by one – third of the members of the National Executive Committee.
“For ease of reference, Article 25.2 (i) is reproduced hereunder as follows: ‘The National Executive Committee shall meet every quarter and or at any time decided by the National Working Committee or at the request made in writing by one – third of the members of the National Executive Committee, provided that not less than 14 days notice is given for the meeting’.
“From the above, it is clear that the Party did not breach any provision of its Constitution by not calling for a meeting of NEC every quarter for the purpose of presenting activities of the Party to the members of NEC as alluded to by the Plaintiff and thus his suit ought to be dismissed by the Court for lacking in merit.
“The Plaintiff’s case revolves around the internal/domestic affairs of the Party which can only be resolved through the internal dispute resolution machinery of the Party. On this point see the Supreme Court case of OSAGIE & ORS vs ENOGHAMA & ORS (2022) LPELR – 58903.
“By resorting to a Court action against the Party, it is my recommendation that disciplinary measures in accordance with the Party’s Constitution should be meted out against the Plaintiff particularly Article 21.5 (v) which states thus: ‘Any member who files an action in Court of law against the Party or any of its officers on any matter or matters relating to the discharge of duties of the Party without first exhausting the avenues for redress provided for in this Constitution shall automatically stand expelled from the Party on filing such action and no appeal against expulsion as stipulated in this clause shall be entertained until the withdrawal of the action from Court by the member’.”
In the suit instituted at the Federal High Court in Abuja last Thursday through his counsel, Mohammed Kabir Abdullahi. Esq., APC was listed as the first defendant while Adamu, Omisore and the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC were listed as second, third and fourth defendant respectively.
Among the questions for determination are “whether by the provisions of Articles 13.4 (iv) and 25.2 of the APC Constitution, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Defendants are not obligated to call for or cause to be called and held quarterly or at the request of one-third of members of the National Executive Committee (“NEC”) of the APC the meeting of the National Executive Committee of the APC at which the Defendants shall present quarterly financial report on income and expenditure of the APC to members of the National Executive Committee.
“Whether by the provisions of Article 13.4 (vi) and 25.2 of the APC Constitution, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Defendants are not obligated to call for or cause to be called and held quarterly or at the request of one-third of members of the National Executive Committee (“NEC”) of the APC the meeting of the National Executive Committee of the APC at which the Defendants shall present proposed guidelines and regulations governing the conduct of elections to the Party offices at all levels, and procedure for selecting Party candidates for elective offices, including the selection and zoning of leadership of the National Assembly to the members of the National Executive Committee”.
Upon determination of the questions, Lukman is therefore seeking among others, “a declaration that by the provisions of Articles 13.4 (iv) and 25.2 of the APC Constitution, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Defendants are under an obligation to call for or cause to be called and held quarterly or at the request of one-third of members of the National Executive Committee (“NEC”) of the APC the meeting of the National Executive Committee of the APC at which the Defendants shall present quarterly financial report on income and expenditure of the APC to the members of the National Executive Committee”.