The crisis rocking the Labour Party, LP, took another dramatic twist on Friday as former Deputy Chairman of the party, Mr. Callistus Uju Okafor, approached the Supreme Court of Nigeria to declare him as the authentic Chairman of the party.
Addressing journalists in Abuja on the development of the Labour Party that had Peter Obi as its presidential candidate in the 2023 general election, Okafor said the constitution of the LP still recognised him as the substantive Deputy Chairman.
His emergence as the Chairman of the LP followed the death of the ex-Chairman, Alhaji Abdulkadir Abdulsalam, on 29 December 2020, which he posited gave him the ground for appeal.
He urged the apex court to declare his ouster as the acting National Chairman following the death of the substantive chairman, Abdulsalami, as illegal because there was also a consent judgment that recognised his emergence.
He said, “I am the only acting National Chairman of the Labour Party. Every other person parading himself as such is fake. Lamidi Apapa and Abure are both fake.
“Apapa, for instance, cannot emerge in illegality. His emergence would have been better if there was no consent judgment.
“So far there is a consent judgment, Julius Abure is an illegal Labour Party Chairman.
“The only leader the Labour Party has at the moment is Callistus Okafor who is the acting National Chairman that is recognised by the constitution of the Labour Party.
“Let everybody know that I have approached the Supreme Court of Nigeria on Thursday, May 18, and prayed the apex court to declare Abure’s LP chairmanship claims, illegal.
“I have drawn the attention of the Court to the fact that the acting secretary of the LP, based on the party’s constitution, cannot emerge as the Chairman.
“I have also asked the Supreme Court to declare null and void and of no effect, whatever Abure has done in his so-called capacity as the Chairman of the LP.
“I specifically drew the attention of the honourable justices of the apex court to the fact that Abure has conducted an illegal convention and primaries for LP which he has no legal power to do.
“I have therefore asked the Supreme Court to nullify all actions taken by Abure which were the basis for the Labour Party’s participation in the 2023 general elections.
“I have also asked the Court to recognise my party’s membership list because the list is with me and could be verified.”
Okafor had approached the Supreme Court in 2022 to challenge the Appeal Court’s validation of his ouster as the acting National Chairman of the Labour Party, citing abuse of process.
He returned to the Supreme Court on Thursday to amend his prayers before the apex court.
Details of the amended suit sighted by our correspondent read, SC./CV/1379/2022,
APPEAL NO.CA/ABJ/CV/702/2022 and SUIT NO FHC/AB3/CS/1636
The respondents are, Comrade Salisu. Mohammed, Julius Abure, Umar Farouk, and Akingbade Samuel Oyelakin.
Okafor wants the Supreme Court to stop them from wrongfully and unlawfully parading themselves as members of the National Working Committee of the Labour Party.
Other respondents are the Independent National Electoral Commission, Lawson Osagie, Isa Aremu, Baba Aye, Ikpe Etokudo, Sylvester Ejiofor, Luy Offiong, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), and Hajiya Salamatu Aliyu.
Okafor is seeking an order of the Supreme Court allowing this appeal and setting aside in its entirety, the Judgment of the lower court delivered on the 22″4 day of July, 2022.
He is also seeking, “An order invoking its powers and exercising jurisdiction pursuant to section 22 of the Supreme Court Act, to hear and determine the Appeltant’s Originating Summons, dated the 22” day of December 2021 and filed on the 23% day of December, 2021, on its merit.
“A declaration of the Court, that pursuant to Article 14, Paragraph 2(a&b) of the Constitution of Labour Party, that the Appellant, herein, Chief Callistus Okafor, as the Deputy National Chairman of Labour Party, assumed the position of the acting National Chairman of the Labour
Party, upon the demise of the previous occupant of that position in the person of A.Abdulsalami.
“A declaration that the 2nd Respondent, Barr Julius Abure, pursuant to Article 14, paragraph 2(a&b) of the Constitution of Labour Party, as the Acting National Secretary of Labour Party, cannot legally or validly assume office, under any circumstance whatsoever, as the acting National Charman of Labour Party, upon the demise of the previous occupant.
“An order of the Court restraining the 2nd Respondent, Barr Julius Abure, or any other person whomsoever, from acting, or assuming office, and or from continuing to act as the National Chairman of the Labour Party, besides the Appellant herein, Chief Callistus Okafor.
“A declaration that all the National Conventions, all Special Conventions, and all the Primary elections, conducted by Labour Party, under or by Barr Julius Abure, for the 2023 general elections, either as the acting National Secretary of Labour Party or as the acting Natrona! Chairman of Labour or under any other capacity whatsoever, are illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional, null void and of no effect whatsoever.
“An order of the Court, invalidating, nullifying and setting aside in its entirety, all National Conventions, all special conventions, and all the Primaries, conducted by Labour Party, for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria, under or by Barr Julius Abure, either as the acting National Secretary of Labour Party or as the acting National Chairman of Labour or under any other capacity whatsoever.
“An order Court directing and mandating the Independent National Electoral Commission, to henceforth accept and recognise Chief Callistus Okafor as the National Chairman of the Labour Party, among others
Part of the amended notice read, “Take Notice that the Appellant being dissatisfied with the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, (Coram: Hon Justice P.O Ige, Hon Justice B.A Georgewill and Hon Justice U.A Ogakwu) delivered on the 22nd day of July 2022, in Appeal NO:CA/ABJ/CV/702/2022, doth hereby appeal to the Supreme Court upon grounds set out in paragraph 3.
“And will at the hearing of the appeal, seek the reliefs set out in paragraph 4. And the Appellant further states that the names and addresses of the persons directly affected by the appeal are those set out in
“The Lower Court erred in law and denied the Appellant fair hearing when it suo motu raised the issue of abuse of court process, and dismissed the Appellant’s originating processes, without affording the Appellant an opportunity to make representations, in its judgment.”
“The tower court erred in law when it held thus, “My lords, I have skimmed and scanned through the provision of Section 285 (14) (a)-(s) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), the provisions of Sections (14) and 29 (5) of the Electoral Act 2022 as well as the state of decided authorities on this issue to see if the claims of the 1st Respondent fall within the jurisdictional competence of the lower Court by virtue of any of these statutory provisions, or indeed any other law, and I find that they are clearly outside the jurisdictional competence and remit of the lower Court to validly adjudicate upon.
“By section 251(1r) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Federal High Court has jurisdiction to entertain the Claim of the Appellant, given the declaratory reliefs sought against INEC, an agency of the Federal Government in the Originating Summons.
“The jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to entertain a matter is both subject matter related and party related. The Federal High Court has jurisdiction to entertain the case of the Appellant on the basis of both the subject matter and parties. 4. The conduct of the Court below occasioned a miscarriage of justice.
“The lower court erred when it held that the Originating Summons filed by the Appellant at the trial court was with the intendment of either enforcing or interpreting the consent judgment of the trial court, when the crux of the Appellant’s suit includes the violation of the Constitution of the 6th Respondent.
“The suit of the Appellant was for the trial court to determine whether certain actions of some of the Respondents was in violation of the consent judgment of the court on the one hand, and in contravention of the Constitution of the
6th Respondent on the other hand.
“Section 287(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, empowers the trial court to enforce the consent judgment of the court.
“The learned justices of the lower court did not advert their minds to the issue of the infraction of the Constitution of the 6” Respondent raised in the Appellant’s suit.
“A judgment of the court can also be enforced by a separate suit just as done by the Appellant, as has been variously held by the Supreme Court.
“The conduct of the Court below occasioned a miscarriage of justice.
“The Court below held in law, when it held that the complaint of the 1st Respondent, as well as his claims, are purely intra-party disputes based on the 6th Respondent’s own internal affair over which neither the lower court nor even this court has any jurisdiction whatsoever to meddle and Interfere with how the Labour Party, the 6th Respondent, runs and manages its own internal affairs.
“The Supreme Court had variously held, that though the political parties can run their affairs as they want, the Party and its members must conduct their affairs in accordance with their constitution.
“The conducts complained against in this matter, were not in tandem with the
“The Court below failed to consider, conducts, in contravention of the clear provisions of the Constitution of Labour Party, which empowers the Appellant to approach the lower court in accordance with section 6(6b) of the 1999”
“The Lower Court, erred in law and denied the Appellant fair hearing when it suo motu raised the issue of abuse of court process, and dismissed the Appellant’s originating processes, without affording the Appellant an opportunity to make representations, in its judgment.0
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