The Labour Party, on Tuesday, expressed shock at the spate of judgments being churned out at the various national and state assembly tribunals, where several of its elected members at the National Assembly had been sacked.
In a statement by the National Chairman of the party, Julius Abure, he said the Labour Party at the last general election took Nigerians by surprise by rewriting the political narratives and ending the dominance of the two major political parties in Nigeria.
According to Abure, “LP became a household name with over 10 million members and supporters across the nation. However, this feat is regrettably being reversed by the pronouncements coming out from the various tribunals.
“We are worried because the reasons for reversing our victories are matters that have been settled by the superior courts in the past. It is even incomprehensible and ludicrous when different tribunals give conflicting and diverse judgements on the same matter, a matter that has since been ruled by the Supreme Court and very recently at the Presidential Election Petition Court in APC v Peter Obi.
“The courts have in a plethora of cases held that the court has no jurisdiction to intervene in the internal affairs of a political party.”
He explained that the issue of nomination of candidates as well as membership are internal affairs of the party beyond the jurisdiction of courts, adding, “It is only a political party that can determine who its members are and who their flag bearer for an election should be.”
Buttressing his points further, Abure said, In its judgment in SC/CV/501/2023,which was sighted for the Tribunal, the Supreme Court held that, “A political party that files a suit to challenge the nomination of the candidate of another party will be a nosy busybody, a meddlesome interloper, peeping into the affairs of his neighbour without any backing in law. No court of law can entertain such a suit.
“In the case of ARDO & ANOR v. NYAKO & ORS (2013) LPELR-CA/YL/15/2012 (CONSOLIDATED), the court of appeal, per Per DENTON-WEST, J.C.A., held that; ‘However it is a notorious principle of law that courts have no right whatsoever to descend into the internal affairs of political parties as to choose their candidates for them’ or decide the status of their membership.
“This position is more vividly expounded in the case of AGI v. PDP & ORS (2016) LPELR-SC.256/2016, where the Supreme Court held that; ‘… a party is supreme over its own affairs… A party is like a club. A voluntary association. It has its rules, regulations, guidelines, and Constitution…”
The LP national chairman said part of the rules and guidelines of the Labour Party was to accord membership to any Nigerian who so desires, and including by way of a waiver.
He said, “If you look at our guidelines, it is very clear that we can grant a waiver to people who are joining us during the election, and the Labour Party in observance of its own relevant rules and guidelines discharged its obligations by granting a waiver to as many as requested for it. So, it is our inalienable right under our own rules and we activated it to the fullest,” Abure stressed.
“The decisions of the tribunal against our elected lawmakers are clearly in contravention of established jurisprudence. Where the leadership of a party regards a person as a member of the party eligible to contest the primaries, no member of the party can complain against such a decision.
“Such an issue is within the the domestic and internal affairs of the party over which the courts have no jurisdiction as such is not justiciable for our judicial system for lower courts to upturn a judgement already delivered by the Supreme Court. Though the tribunal is not the final court, we frown at the recklessness of our judicial officers in entering a judgement that looks suspicious.
“We are, therefore, calling the attention of the Nigeria Judicial Council to the injustice ongoing and to review the activities of some of our legal officers, who may have been compromised and found wanting in the discharge of their duties.
“Labour Party must be encouraged to widen the political space and end the one party system being vigorously pursued by the ruling party. Pushing the party under a moving trailer will not in any way help any one.”
Chuks Okocha in Abuja