Apapa, Abure disagree in court over plan to withdraw suit against Athan Achonu

Apapa, Abure disagree in court over plan to withdraw suit against Athan Achonu
January 12 20:21 2024 Print This Article

The two Labour Party (LP) factions led by Mr Julius Abure and Alhaji Lamidi Apapa disagreed at the Federal High Court, Abuja over plan to withdraw a suit filed against Mr Athan Achonu, the LP candidate in the last governorship election in Imo.The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Apapa-led faction of the party had filed the case to stop Achonu as the party’s standardbearer for the Nov. 11, 2023 governorship poll in Imo before Justice Inyang Ekwo.

The plaintiffs in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1357/2023 include LP; Alhaji Apapa (Acting National Chairman); Alhaji Lawal Saleh (Acting National Secretary) and Comrade Abayomi Arabambi (National Publicity Secretary).

Others are Comrade Anslem Eragbe (National Youth Leader); Akingbade Oyelekan (National Legal Adviser) and Chief Joseph Ikechukwu Ukaegbu (Gubernatorial candidate, Imo State) as 1st to 7th plaintiffs respectively.

The plaintiffs, in their motion ex-parte sued INEC as sole defendant.

They had sought an order of interim injunction restraining INEC from “recognising any other person or persons laying claim to the LP gubernatorial ticket in Imo governorship election slated for 11th November, 2023 other than the 7th plaintiff (Ukaegbu) who emerged from the primary conducted by the Apapa-led National Working Committee (NWC) of LP on April 16.

They also sought an order of mandatory injunction directing or compelling INEC to recognise, upload and publish Ukaegbu’s name as LP governorship candidate in Imo, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed contemporaneously with this ex-parte application.

They equally sought an order of mandatory injunction directing INEC to upload Apapa and Saleh’s names as the acting national chairman and acting national secretary including other Apapa-led NWC members, pending the pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice filed contemporaneously with this ex-parte application.

But Justice Ekwo declined to grant the motion, directing them to put INEC on notice to respond why the court should not grant the application.

In its response, INEC prayed the court to dismissed Apapa’s motion, seeking to replace the party’s governorship candidate in Imo.

INEC, in its affidavit to show cause pursuant to the court order, told Justice Ekwo that the plaintiffs’ suit was statue barred.

When the matter came up on Nov. 23, 2023, Kehinde Edun, the Abure-led National Legal Adviser, appeared in court and announced appearance for LP (1st plaintiff).

Edun told the court that he was in court to file a discontinuance notice in the matter.

He argued that LP was joined as 1st plaintiff without authorisation, insisting that they had no case against INEC.

Taken aback by Edun’s submission, Anderson Asemota, who had been appearing for all the plaintiffs, including the 1st plaintiff (LP), said the matter was slated for hearing.

He said he was served with a notice of joinder by Imo governorship candidate, Achonu, through his lawyer, Okwudili Anozie, who had earlier announced appearance as party seeking to be joined.

Asemota told the court that Edun was not the party’s national legal adviser.

The judge, who ordered Edun to served Asemota with the notice of discontinuance, adjourned the matter until today for hearing.

Upon resumed hearing, Asemota told the court that an affidavit of facts in opposition to the notice of discontinuance had been filed by his clients.

Responding, Edun told the court that he was just served with the affidavit of facts earlier in the morning and would need more time to respond.

Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter until March 6 for the adoption of processes in the notice of discontinuance.

Meanwhile, in the application sighted by NAN, Mr Akingbade Oyelekan, who averred that he was the authentic national legal adviser of LP, said the notice of discontinuance was tailored to mislead the court.

“I have clinically scanned through and perused the rubrics of the notice of discontinuance dated and filed 22nd November, 2023 and state that the same was contrived, concocted and tailored to mislead this honourable court as it did not emanate from the party,” he said.

Oyelekan argued that the party’s leadership did not at any time direct or instruct the lawyers handling the matter or any other lawyer to withdraw or discontinue the suit.

He said they were desirous of prosecuting the matter to its logical conclusion.

He said he was duly elected as the national legal adviser of the LP in the national convention of the party held on June 10, 2019.

In the exhibit marked “A,” Oyelekan referred to the list of members of the NWC of the party forwarded to INEC which, he said, was duly received and acknowledged by the commission on June 24, 2019.

He averred that upon expiration of the tenure of the NWC members, the NEC of the party, in session, extended the tenure of the NWC members, including the national legal adviser for another 6 months.

He alleged that Edun, who is parading himself as national legal adviser, was unknown to the party.

Oyelekan urged the court to strike out the notice of discontinuance in the interest of justice.

NAN reports that Gov. Hope Uzodinma of Imo was reelected in the Nov. 11, 2023 governorship election.

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