Court dismisses suit seeking to oust PDP National Chairman, Mu'azu
The Federal High Court â€Žsitting in Abuja on Tuesday dismissed the suit instituted by an aspirant to the House of Representatives from Adamawa State, Aliyu Buba Gurin, seeking to unseat the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Adamu Mu'azu.
The court also dismissed the counter claim brought by the immediate past National Chairman of the party and the second defendant in the suit, Bamanga Tukur, seeking his reinstatement.
Gurin had asked the court to unseat Mu'azu and at the same time stop him from presiding over the forthcoming PDP National Convention.
Tukur, who was the second defendant in the suit, brought a counter claim supporting all the reliefs sought by the plaintiff.
The plaintiff had joined the PDP, Tukur, Mu'azu and the Independent National Electoral Commission as first to fourth respondents.
Delivering judgement in the suit, the trial judge, Justice Evoh Chukwu, held that the court has jurisdiction to entertain the matter on the ground that the suit seeks the court's interpretation of some sections of the constitution.
Chukwu held that when it appears that a political party has breached its internal provisions, the court can be invited to determine the level of complicity.
On the issue of locus of the plaintiff to institute the suit, the court held that he (plaintiff) lacked the legal right to institute such suit on the ground that the interest he canvassed was not different from that of every other member of the party.
He added that the plaintiff did not demonstrate any specific interest as to how the appointment of Mu'azu affected him since he did not have the intention of contesting for the post.
Dismissing Tukur's counter claim, the court held that such application is strange to the nation's jurisprudence and hence should not be allowed to stand.
Chukwu held: 'In interpreting statutes, ordinary meaning should be given.
'The defendants in this suit have complied with Section 47 of the party constitution by appointing Mu'azu from the same geographical region of the resigned chairman.
'The complaint of the plaintiff, therefore goes to no issue.
'No specific interest was shown by the plaintiff.
'The plaintiff have not shown any locus for bringing this suit.
'The injury he claimed was self inflicted.
'I have studied the counter claim of the second defendant, his procedure is unknown to our jurisprudence.
'Having held that it is unknown to our law, it is accordingly dismissed.
'The application of party seeking to join has become an academic exercise and hence dismissed.
'The suit is thereby dismissed in its entirety, the counter claim is also dismissed.
'Plaintiff to bear the cost of the action.'
Reacting to the judgement, the National Legal Adviser of the PDP, Victor Kwon, commended the judgement adding that the court had simply interpreted Section 47 (6) of PDPâ€Ž constitution.
Kwon said: 'On the issue of discipline, it is a matter that the party will look at closely.
'Because, as much as as the party wishes to open its arms to all members, discipline also has to be maintained within the party hierarchy.'
At the argument stage, counsel to the plaintiff, Rotimi Oguneso (SAN), contended that the resignation of Tukur did not comply with the provision of Section 47(5) of the constitution of the party, which stipulates that a 30 days notice be given to the National Executive Committee by Tukur.
Ogunwusi further argued that the appointment of Mu'azu as the new chairman did not follow the laid down provisions of the party's constitution.
The plaintiff further contended that what gave him locus to institute the suit is his membership of the party.
He however prayed the court to set aside the appointment of Mu'azu.
Tukur in his counter claim through his counsel, Adamson Adeboro, â€Žargued that he was forced to resign his post as the national chairman of the party in order for the seven defected governors to come back to the party.
Tukur further argued that the NEC of the party has no power to appoint the national chairman, adding that the votes and proceedings of NEC held at Wadata House onJanuary 15 and 20, which deliberated on his resignation as national chairman and appointment of Mu'azu as chairman are nullity.
He added that even if he had submitted a letter of resignation on January 15 to the party, the letter did not comply with Section 47(5) of the party's constitution which requires that a 30 days prior notice should be given.
â€ŽOpposing the application, counsel to PDP and Mu'azu, Solomon Umor (SAN), asked the court to dismiss the suit on ground that the plaintiff lacks the right to institute such suit.
Umor further noted that the counter claim filed by the second defendant is strange in law and cannot be accepted by court.
He added that the plaintiff in the suit did not indicate any injury he has suffered or would suffer by reason of which the suit was brought.
Umor also stated that the plaintiff has not pursued or exhausted the domestic or internal remedies available within the constitution of the party prior to the institution of the suit.
He furtherâ€Ž argued that the subject matter is an internal affairs of the party which the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain.
He thereby prayed the court to dismiss the suit in its entirety.
The fourth respondent in the suit, INEC, did not not file any application but submitted that it will be neutral.
However, Tukur has said he will challenge the judgement at the Court of Appeal.