Salihu Lukman, the National Vice Chairman for the North-West, should receive severe punishment, including the possibility of expulsion, according to Ahmad El-Marzuq, the APC’s national legal adviser, for suing the party and its top officials.
El-Marzuq’s advice was included in a leaked “legal opinion” dated April 28, 2023, that was sent to Senator Abdullahi Adamu, the party’s national chairman.
Even as this was happening, concerned members of the party’s National Working Committee established a committee to investigate the ongoing dispute between Adamu and the vice chair for the North-West in an effort to end the internal strife roiling the party.
This development comes just four days after Adamu and Senator Iyiola Omisore, the APC National Secretary, were taken to court by Lukman for violating the party’s charter.
APC was named as the first defendant in the lawsuit last Thursday by his attorney, Mohammed Abdullahi, who also joined Adamu, Omisore, and the Independent National Electoral Commission as the second, third, and fourth defendants in turn.
In the past year, there have been numerous instances of conflict between the lawmaker from Kaduna and the national chairman of the APC.
In addition to frequently accusing Adamu of being a one-man show, Lukman bemoaned the fact that he had turned the NWC members into little more than rubber stamps for significant choices he made on his own.
However, the situation changed when a leaked memo by El-Marzuq that was provided which suggested that the high-ranking NWC member be expelled from the secretariat for having the audacity to oppose the party’s leadership.
The legal advisor for APC claimed that after exhaustively reviewing the requested reliefs and the affidavit supporting the plaintiff’s originating summons, he had not discovered any breaches as claimed.
El-Marzuq believed that the courts had no authority over matters pertaining to the management of political parties and the internal affairs of the party, among other reasons.
It is established law that no court has the authority to consider complaints or problems connected to intra-party disputes of political parties, the author said. The Supreme Court ruled in Onuoha v. Okafor & Ors. (1983) 14 NSCLR 494 at 499–507 that only the political party can settle a dispute involving party leadership, an intra-party conflict between members of the same political party, or a conflict between a member and the political party.
This is true since a political party is an association or voluntary group. People join political parties of their own free will; as a result, any internal disputes must be decided by a majority vote of the members. Because of this, any disagreement about its internal operations is unjustifiable, and no court has the authority to hear a claim regarding it.
However, a quick glance at Article 25.2 (i) of the Party’s Constitution would show that contrary to what the Plaintiff claims, the National Working Committee or one-third of the National Executive Committee members must request in writing for a meeting of the National Executive Committee to be called.
For ease of reference, Article 25.2 (i) is reproduced below as follows: “The National Executive Committee shall meet at least once every quarter and at such other times as may be determined by the National Working Committee or at the written request of one-third of the members of the National Executive Committee.
“From the foregoing, it is evident that the Party did not violate any provision of its Constitution by failing to call for a quarterly meeting of the NEC to present the Party’s activities to the NEC members as alluded to by the Plaintiff, and as a result, the Court should dismiss his lawsuit for lack of merit.
“The Plaintiff’s case primarily concerns internal/domestic matters of the Party, which can only be settled through the Party’s internal conflict resolution mechanisms. See the Supreme Court case OSAGIE & ORS vs. ENOGHAMA & ORS (2022) LPELR – 58903 for more information on this.
“By bringing a lawsuit against the Party, I urge the Party’s Constitution to be followed, especially Article 21.5 (v), which reads as follows: “Any member who brings a lawsuit against the Party or any of its officers on any matter or matters relating to the performance of duties of the Party without first exhausting the avenues for redress provided for in this Const.
Salihu Lukman responds.
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Political analysts projected that the primary topic of discussion at Wednesday’s “expected stormy session” of the NWC meeting would be the disciplinary action against the APC legal counsel in light of the recent development in the party’s internal affairs.
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The vice chairman for the North-West did not show any emotion when asked about his response. He expressed his hope that the issue would be brought up at the upcoming NWC conference.
Salihu Lukman said, “My immediate response is that I hope this will be brought up at the NWC meeting because it won’t be a threat until then.”
“For the time being, the memo is just the national legal adviser’s opinion, but I will respond to it when the time is right.”