A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Monday struck out a suit filed by some members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, challenging the conduct of ward congresses in the state.
Osaro Nwakaji and 14 other members of the ruling party in the state, through their counsel, P. N. Ogbole, SAN, had dragged PDP before Justice Charles Agbadza, sitting at Jabi, Abuja, through an originating summon to challenge their exclusion from participating and vying for positions in the ward congresses of the party in the state.
The plaintiffs/claimants sought a declaration of the court that they are entitled to participate in the PDP ward congress scheduled to hold in 2020 or any other date.
They also sought a declaration that the refusal of the party to issue them nomination forms having paid the requisite fees is unconstitutional, null and void.
The claimants further sought a declaration that the purported PDP ward congresses held or to be held in the state to their exclusion, having paid the requisite fees for nomination forms is null, void and of no effect whatsoever.
They further sought a perpetual order of injunction restraining the party from conducting any wards, local government areas or state congresses or further congresses in the state based on the ward congresses election conducted in 2020 or any other date.
Delivering judgment on the matter today, Justice Agbadza upheld the preliminary objection of the defendant, claiming that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter.
According to him, it was settled that the issue of jurisdiction was the live wire of any judicial proceedings and once raised, the court must determine it once and for all.
The judge held that going by the reliefs sought by the claimants, the cause of action emanated from Rivers State, adding that by instituting the matter in the FCT High Court, the conduct of the claimants was forum shopping and amounts to an abuse of court process.
He stated that by the virtue of the recent Practice Direction issued by the Chief Judge of the FCT High Court, Justice Ishaq Usman Bello, the case ought to be transferred to Rivers State, where it originated from since it was forum shopping.
Justice Agbadza further held that there are a plethora of authorities that the court cannot interfere in the internal matter of a political party.
According to him, the claims of the plaintiffs were a matter of internal affair of PDP, declaring that, “What the claimants are asking the court is to dabble into an internal matter of a political party.”
He then declared that the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear and determine the suit.
“This suit is hereby struck out,” Justice Agbadza declared.