The leadership crisis rocking the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Sunday took a new dimension as a leaked internal memo revealed a recommendation for expulsion of the National Vice Chairman, North-west, Salihu Moh. Lukman by the National Legal Adviser, Ahmad Usman El-Marzuq.
The National Legal Adviser made the recommendation to expel Lukman to the party’s national chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, for dragging the party, the national chairman and national secretary to court for an alleged breach of ruling party’s constitution.
In the said leaked memo, dated 28th of April to the national chairman and copied to national secretary, all NWC members and the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), a copy sighted by our correspondent, said Lukman’s action of instituting a court action over the failure to convene meetings of the relevant party organs as mandated by the APC Constitution, should attract expulsion from the party.
Lukman had on Thursday commenced legal action against the leadership of tbe NWC following their refusal to consider his two letters and the 7-day ultimatum given to the National Chairman to commence the process to convene the meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting before May 29, 2023.
But El- Marzuq’s memo, who made reference to the case of WAZIRI v. PDP & ANOR (2022) LPELR-58803(CA), held that “It is settled law that, no Court has the jurisdiction to hear and determine complaints or matters about intra-party disputes of political parties. It has long been settled by the Supreme Court in Onuoha v. Okafor & Ors. (1983) 14 NSCLR 494 at 499 – 507 that, where the relief sought is on leadership of or intra-party dispute between members of a same political party or between a_member or and the political party, only the party can resolve the dispute.
“This is because a political party is a voluntary organization or association. Persons join political parties of their own choice, therefore, where there is any internal disagreement, it must be resolved by a majority decision of the members. That being so, any dispute over its internal affairs is not justiciable and no Court has jurisdiction to entertain a claim on such dispute.’
Arguing further, the APC legal adviser said issues bordering on the management of political parties have equally been held to be outside the jurisdiction of the Courts.
Referring to the affidavit in support of the Originating Summons, Lukman made heavy weather about the fact that the meeting of the National Executive Committee ought to be held every quarter by the provisions of the Party’s Constitution and that the failure to do has greatly affected the smooth administration of the Party.
But El- Marzuq noted that “a cursory look at Article 25.2 (i) of the Party’s Constitution would reveal that it is not mandatory to convene a meeting of the National Executive Committee every quarter as postulated by the Plaintiff rather it is at the discretion of the National Working Committee or the request in writing by one – third of the members of the National Executive Committee.
“For ease of reference, Article 25.2 (i) is reproduced hereunder as follows: ‘The National Executive Committee shall meet every quarter and or at any time decided by the National Working Committee or at the request made in writing by one-third of the members of the National Executive Committee, provided that not less than 14 days notice is given for the meeting’.
“From the above, it is clear that the Party did not breach any provision of its Constitution by not calling for a meeting of NEC every quarter to present activities of the Party to the members of NEC as alluded to by the Plaintiff and thus his suit ought to be dismissed by the Court for lacking in merit.
“The Plaintiff’s case revolves around the internal/domestic affairs of the Party which can only be resolved through the internal dispute resolution machinery of the Party. On this point see the Supreme Court case of OSAGIE & ORS vs ENOGHAMA & ORS (2022) LPELR – 58903.
“By resorting to a Court action against the Party, it is my recommendation that disciplinary measures by the Party’s Constitution should be meted out against the Plaintiff particularly Article 21.5 (v) which states thus: ‘Any member who files an action in Court of law against the Party or any of its officers on any matter or matters relating to the discharge of duties of the Party without first exhausting the avenues for redress provided for in this Constitution shall automatically stand expelled from the Party on filing such action and no appeal against expulsion as stipulated in this clause shall be entertained until the withdrawal of the action from Court by the member’.”
When contacted for his reaction to the development, the North-west zone chairman simply said: “My simple reaction is that I hope this will be tabled at the NWC meeting because its only then it will become a threat, for now the memo is just an opinion of the National Legal Adviser, but I will react to it at the appropriate time. Thank you.”