Court dismisses suit by LG chairmen over dissolution of caretaker committees in Zamfara

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A Federal High Court sitting in Gusau on Friday dismissed the suit filed by 10 former All Progressives Congress (APC) Local Government Chairmen in Zamfara.

The former APC LG chairmen approached the federal high challenging their removal by the Gov Mai-Mala Buni-led APC National Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee.

The presiding judge, Justice Aminu Bappah -Aliyu, in a ruling held that the federal high court lacked jurisdiction to entertain a matter on the internal affairs of a political party.

Justice Bappah-Aliyu held that the dissolution  of the local government chairmen of the All Progressives Congress by the Buni-led APC National Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) was purely an internal affairs of the party and could not be entertained by the court.

Justice Aliyu, however, ruled that the federal high court did not have jurisdiction to entertain the suit as it was an internal affairs of the party.

He therefore, dismissed the suit for lack of jurisdiction with no cost awarded to the plaintiffs.The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the APC CECPC had orally dissolved the party’s executive in Zamfara following the defection of Gov. Bello Matawalle, from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the APC on June 29.

Gov. Buni of Yobe, who is the CECPC chairman, had announced the dissolution of party executives and declared Matawalle as the leader of the party in the state.

Dissatisfied by the announcement, Abdulaziz Danmaliki and nine others on July 28 filed the suit against Buni, the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The plaintiffs asked the court to determine whether the CECPC chairman had the right to orally dissolve them and hand over the affairs of the party to a caretaker committee.

Also, whether INEC could lawfully accept and deal with any officer of the party in the state, other than the plaintiffs.

They asked the court to declare the “mere oral announcement, of the dissolution, on June 29, as illegal and a void act contrary to Article 14.1 (lll), (V) and (Vlll) of the party’s constitution.”

The plaintiff argued that the dissolution did not extinguish the legal rights of the plaintiffs and that the first defendant lacked the right to remove the plaintiffs who were duly appointed by the national secretariat of the party on Dec. 8, 2020.

They prayed the court to nullify the dissolution as well as order INEC not to accept or deal with any other state officer other than the plaintiffs.

They also prayed the court to order that the appointment of the plaintiffs subsists.

The plaintiffs urged the court to also restrain the first and second defendants from disrupting their tenure of office pending the conduct of congresses at all levels.

Mr Daniel Enwelum, SAN, who represented the 10 plaintiffs gave their names as Abdul’aziz Danmaliki, Tafa Nasarawa, Umar Danmaigadi, Abubakar Tijjani Dan-Ayyah and Alto Bala Kaura.

Others included Alhaji Lawal Sulaiman, Abdullahi Sani Dan-azumi, Alhaji Lawal Mustafa, Alhaji Babangida Abdullahi and Ibrahim Kofa.Enwelum had argued in his written address urged the court determine whether the action of the then acting national chairman of the APC, who at a rally, off handedly, dissolved the existing state Exco and handed over the party to the governor as the party leader was right.He hinged his argument on the fact: ”there is no position of leader of the party and the provision of the constitution of the APC, articles 13, 14 and 17, particularly article 14, does not give him the mandate to do such.”He contended that the court order restraining the defendants from further action, including conduct of congresses, had not been vacated.

Mr Pwahomdi Lasco, who represented the first and second defendants, in his final submission, urged the court to strike out the suit for lack of jurisdiction and award substantial cost.

Also, INEC, the third defendant, had urged the court to strike out the case for want of jurisdiction or “in the alternative strike out the name of the third defendant for not being a proper party.”

Speaking on the action of the court, Enwelum told NAN that the plaintiffs would study the judgement and take appropriate action.

Meanwhile, Lasco who represented the first and second defendants said his team was happy with the judgement.

He commended the judge for following provisions of the constitution of the federal public and the electoral act 2010 as ammended.

He said both were clear about non interference in the internal affairs of political parties.(NAN)