By Michael Adesanya/Abeokuta
A Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta has struck out a suit challenging the legality of the Labour Party (LP) state congress held earlier in January this year.
The court, presided over by Justice Ibrahim Watila, held that litigants in the suit, number FHC/AB/CS/10/18 instituted by three factional members of the party, failed to exhaust the party’s internal mechanism for resolving disputes as stated in Articles 7 and 27 (8) of LP’s constitution.
The trio of Chief Abiodun Owolabi, Alhaji Ibrahim Babalola and Segun Oloye had approached the court seeking an order to declare as illegal, conduct of LP’s congresses conducted by the Abayomi Arabambi led state executive committee on 22nd January, 2018.
The plaintiffs through their counsel, Kehinde Bamiwola argued that the said congresses which produced Arabambi as state chairman of the party and other state ex-co members failed to meet set down conditions as stipulated in the LP constitutions for the conduct of party congresses.
They also sought a perpetual injunction restraining Arabambi and members of the state executive from opening a parallel secretariat of the party in the state.
They accused Arabambi of conducting parallel congresses of the party with the intention of “causing disruption, destabilising and causing chaos within the national leadership of the party” when they are not card-carrying members of the party.
The suit also joined the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Inspector General of Police, the Director General of the State Security Service (SSS), LP’s National Chairman, Alhaji Abdulkadir Abdulsalam and six others which included the state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sikirulahi Ogundele as co-defendants.
Meanwhile, in the sworn affidavit deposed to in support of his defence, Arabambi through his counsel, Monday Mawah, from Chief Afolabi Fashanu (SAN) chamber, convinced the court that Arabambi and others are bonafide members of LP in the state.
While accusing the plaintiffs of not being members of the Ogun state chapter of the party, Arabambi further said that he was dlly elected at the LP state congress which had in attendance, LP’s National Chairman, Abdulsalam as well as officials from the INEC’s office.
Rulling on the matter, Justice Watila held that the plaintiffs: Owolabi, Babalola and Oloyede failed to establish reasonable cause of action against the Arabambi led state executive committee of LP and 10 others joined in the suit.
Striking out the case however, Justice Watila emphasised that the plaintiffs failed to exhaust all internal mechanism of the party to resolve crisis as expressly stated in Articles 7 and 27 (8) of LP’s constitution.
He also cited the Modu Sheriff case as determined in Sections 97 and 99 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as well as the Civil Procedure Act, 2004.
The court also awarded a cost of N50, 000 against the plaintiffs to be paid to each of the 11 defendants.