15 May 2018

Nigeria: Court Dismisses Tenure Elongation Suits Against Odigie-Oyegun, Others

Abuja — The Federal High Court, Abuja, has dismissed two separate suits challenging the one-year tenure elongation that was granted the National Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and other members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba in his judgment yesterday in the suits marked FHC/ABJ/CS/237/2018 and FHC/ABJ/CS/219/2018 respectively, held that the suits have become lifeless, academic and hypothetical.

He further said that the subject matter of the suits had been overtaken by events, and that APC has already started conducting congresses into offices affected by the proposed tenure elongation.

The court stated that it took into judicial notice the fact that whereas the APC conducted its ward congresses on May 5, organised local council election on May 12 and fixed May 19 to hold its congresses at state level.

It also noted that the national convention of the party was originally scheduled for yesterday - (Monday, May 14) but subsequently deferred till June.

"It has turned out that attempt to extend the tenure of current officials of the second defendant was abandoned," the judge stated.

According to the court, the implication of ongoing congresses being conducted by the APC is that new officials will take over from the Odigie-Oyegun-led executives upon expiration of their tenure on June 30.

The judge, however, stated he was satisfied that there was indeed an attempt to halt the extension of the tenure of current leadership of APC, noting that such would have been unconstitutional and in gross violation of Section 223 of the 1999 Constitution.

Earlier, the court dismissed contention of both APC and Odigie-Oyegun for the fact that it lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit, which they claimed was within the realm of domestic affair of a political party.

The judge held that the court has to hear the matter since it did not only touch on the interpretation of provisions of the constitution but also involved a relief against a federal government agency.

"A court of law should not ordinarily involve in the internal affairs of a political party but when such affair is in contravention of Nigerian constitution, constitution of the party or any other law, jurisdiction of the court will be invoked automatically," Justice Dimgba said.

He said the plaintiffs had the locus standi to sue APC over the February 27 resolution that sought to allow Odigie-Oyegun and others to remain in office beyond their constitutionally-approved tenure.

Justice Dimgba, who held that the APC was wrong to equate attempt to illegally elongate tenure of its officials with the leadership case involving the Ahmed Makarfi-led caretaker committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that was resolved by the Supreme Court, said that in the PDP case, it was the national convention that approved the Makarfi-led caretaker committee, while in the case of the APC, it was the NWC that decided to give itself 12 months tenure extension.

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