A Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday told the immediate past governor of Rivers state, Barr. Nyesom Wike, that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has the right to suspend or expel him if the action is done in accordance with the law.
Justice James Omotosho stated this in a judgement he delivered on a suit filed by Wike prior to the 2023 general elections to seek a court order to stop the PDP from taking action against him without a fair hearing.
The former governor had sued the PDP, its National Working Committee (NWC), and its National Executive Committee (NEC) as 1st to 3rd respondents.
Wike, in the suit (FHC/ABJ/CS/139/2023) dated and filed Feb. 2 by his lawyer, Joshua Musa, SAN, also joined the National Chairman of PDP, Dr.Iyorchia Ayu, National Secretary of PDP, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as 4th to 6th respondents, respectively.
He had prayed for an order directing all parties to maintain the status quo and stay all actions in the matter relating to the threat to suspend or expel him by the 1st to 5th respondents pending the hearing and determination of the originating motion.
Wike asked the court to enforce his fundamental right to freedom of association, which he alleged was about to be breached by the defendants.
However, the PDP through its lawyer, Johnson Usman, SAN, disagreed with Wike’s submission.
Usman argued that the case was only based on speculation, as Wike had failed to provide any evidence to substantiate that the respondents intended to suspend or expel him from the party.
He said the party had not contemplated suspending or expelling members of the G5 Governors or the Integrity Group, despite engaging in anti-party activities.
Usman said Wike and four other governors engaged in anti-party activities by forming the Integrity Group and campaigning for another presidential candidate in the Feb. 25 election.
The senior lawyer argued that a member who voluntarily joined an association must abide by its rules.
Usman, who argued that the ex-governor must have exhausted the internal mechanisms of the party first, said the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter, which, he said, was only within the realm of conjuncture.
He further argued that it was not enough for Wike to institute the suit on fundamental rights enforcement grounds.
Justice Omotosho had, on Feb. 2, given an interim order against the party and others listed in the face of Wike’s ex-parte motion.
The judge, who extended the restraining order on Feb. 14, held that all parties should maintain a status quo pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
Delivering judgement on Wednesday, Justice Omotosho said the court had considered the processes filed by parties and the arguments of counsel.
He held that suspending or expelling the applicant without affording him the right to defend himself would breach his fundamental rights as enshrined in the party’s and Nigeria’s constitutions.
Omotosho said that though the party had the right to suspend or expel its members, this must be done in compliance with its own laws.
The judge said that though Section 46(1) of the law vested jurisdiction on the court if one’s rights had been breached, he said the court would not dabble into the internal affairs of any political party, except where the rights of a member had been violated by the party without recourse to its own laws.
According to him, fundamental human rights are rights enshrined in the Constitution of Nigeria and are sacrosanct.
“Where this right ought to be enforced, the court will do everything within its reach to ensure this. However, as fundamental and sacrosanct these rights are, they are not absolute,” he said.
Justice Omotosho, therefore, agreed that any member of a political party who appeared before a disciplinary committee should be given the opportunity to defend himself.
“If not, any decision taken shall be null and void,” he said.
“This court is convinced that the applicant is entitled to a fair hearing and that the respondent also has the right to discipline its members in accordance with the law,” he added.
The judge further said that Wike had the right to associate and that the threat to dismiss him without inviting him to defend himself contravened Article 57 (1) (2) of the party.
He said that the party’s national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, and his agents were bound to promote constitutional democracy.
Edeoga Heads to Appeal Court over Enugu Guber Tribunal Verdict
From Sylvia Udegbunam, Enugu.
The Edeoga/Nwokeabia campaign organization has said it would challenge the outcome of the Judgement delivered by the Enugu Governorship Election Petition Tribunal on September 21, at the Court of Appeal.
This was disclosed in a statement sent to the Journalists by the spokesperson of the Edeoga/Nwokeabia campaign organization, Engineer George Ugwu.
Ugwu said that the campaign organization was prepared to challenge the tribunal judgement that uphelds the victory of Governor Peter Mbah of the People’s Democratic party (PDP) at the court of appeal and to all extent as permitted by law.
He urged their supporters across the state and in other parts of the country to remain calm, law abiding and go about their businesses without fear or hindrance.
He further added that “we retain belief in Justice and will go the full extent legally possible in ensuring that the hopes of Enugu people, who turned out in their numbers to vote for Labour Party candidate on March 18, 2023 are realised”
Enugu Tribunal Declares Peter Mba Duly Elected
From Sylvia Udegbunam Enugu
The Enugu State Gubernatorial Election Tribunal has declared Governor Peter Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as duly elected in the March 18, governorship election in Enugu State.
The tribunal chaired by Justice Kudirat Murayo Akano also dismissed Edeoga/Labour Party’s petitions of over-voting, bypass of BVAS in the election.
The court ruled that Mbah was duly elected as governor by majority of lawful and valid votes cast at the election.
The Tribunal had earlier dismissed the allegation of Edeoga/LP that Governor Peter Mbah’s National Youth Service Corps(NYSC) discharge certificate was forged.
It held that Mbah did not submit his NYSC certificate to INEC in aid of his qualification to contest for office of governor, since he was already qualified without NYSC certificate.
The Tribunal further rejected Edeoga’s witnesses, and ruled that the LP governorship candidate did not present any admissible evidence to prove that Mbah’s certificate was forged.
The tribunal also held that to prove the issue of forgery, the petitioner must provide the original certificate and the forged one.
The panel also resolved the issue that Mbah was not elected by majority of votes cast against the petitioner.
It averred that witnesses called by the petitioners could not specify the polling units where the elections did not hold nor the results of same.
The panel further held that the petitioner failed to prove that the Mbah did not possess the minimum requirement to stand for election, which is school certificate or its equivalent.
It, therefore, said there was no evidence to support the claim that Mbah was not qualified to stand for the election.
On the issue of plea bargain by Mbah, the tribunal averred that the exhibits presented by the petitioners did not show any plea bargain by the respondent.
The court said there was an evidence presented by Mbah to the effect that he was acquitted of the charges.
Ogun Govt. to set up special Court to try cultists
Ogun Govt. to set up special Court to try cultists
Gov. Dapo Abiodun says a special Court is to be established by the Ogun Government to try cult-related cases.
Abiodun spoke after a joint security meeting, held at the Governor’s Office, in Abeokuta on Wednesday.
He said that the state government would also set up a Joint Anti-Cultism Security Task Force comprising all major security outfits, with the mandate to rid the state of the menace of cultism.
The governor said that the state was also proposing an amnesty programme for cultists who might wish to renounce cultism and surrender their weapons.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Abiodun had on Tuesday hinted that his administration would enact a law that would pronounce the death penalty on anyone caught engaging in cult activities in the state.
NAN reports that the governor had spoken during a visit to the Palace of the Akarigbo of Remoland, Oba Babatunde Ajayi, following days of cult-related clashes in Sagamu, which left many dead and others injured.
The governor said that the joint security meeting focused on providing adequate measures to eradicate cultism in the state.
“During the meeting that took place today (Wednesday), we engaged in fruitful discussions regarding the implementation of measures aimed at combating cultism in the state.
“Our primary focus was on establishing a special court, forming a joint operational force comprising various security agencies, and implementing a death penalty for cultism offences.
“In addition to these measures, we also deliberated on the possibility of introducing a period of amnesty.
” This would allow individuals who wish to surrender their weapons and renounce their affiliation with any cult-related groups and activities the opportunity to do so without fear of prosecution.
” We are dedicated to providing the Special Court and Joint Anti-Cultism Security Task Force with the necessary logistics and tools to support their operations effectively,” he said.
Abiodun said that the overall objective of the meeting was to address the issue of cultism through a multifaceted approach.
He added that the approach would include legal and enforcement measures, rehabilitation efforts, and community engagement through our respected traditional leaders.
“In conclusion, we are determined to tackle the menace of cultism in our state head-on.
“This is by employing a combination of legal frameworks, law enforcement strategies, rehabilitation initiatives, and community involvement, we believe we can bring about lasting change,” he said. (NAN)
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