A High Court sitting in Benin City has authenticated Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as a bonafide member of the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), after emerging as the party’s candidate for the Edo State governorship election, slated for September.
Justice Ahamioje ruled that Ize-Iyamu who emerged as the candidate of the APC is a bonafide member of the party and that he is qualified to contest in the forthcoming governorship election in the state.
Continuing, the trial judge said that the issue of granting a waiver is a matter that is subjected to every political party and that it is not for the court to determine who is to be given waiver or who not.
He said, “I hereby declare that the Osagie Ize-Iyamu (third defendant) is qualified to contest being a registered member of the All Progressives Congress.”
The legal tussle started when the state deputy chairman of the party, Kenneth Asekomhe, Benjamin Oghumu, Mathew Ogbebor and Unweni Nosa, had earlier instituted a suit challenging the decision of the party for granting a waiver to Ize-Iyamu, to make him eligible to contest the APC primary election.
The claimants contended that the waiver by the National Working Committee (NWC) was without the approval of the National Executive Committee and that Ize-Iyamu never formally applied for such waiver through his claimed ward, local government area so is null, void and of no effect.
They prayed the court to restrain the APC from recognising Osagie Ize-Iyamu as an aspirant of the party in its primary election to select a candidate to represent it in the governorship election.
Speaking with reporters immediately after the judgment, counsel to the first and second defendants, Mr Victor Ohiosumua, insisted that the court has no jurisdiction to dabble into what should be the internal affairs of any political parties.
“You are aware that we took all our preliminary objection and we also took the originating summons. So, both processes were consolidated.
“So your Lordship has considered all the processes filed by both parties and he has come to the legal conclusion and very erudite judgement that he has no jurisdiction in determining who a member of a political party is and this is in line with the litigating of cases as your Lordship said basket full of cases in the Supreme Court that members of the political party are an internal affair of the party.
“So, he has reaffirmed those precedences and said he has no jurisdiction to know who is a member.”
Speaking in the same vein, counsel to the first and second defendant, Henry O. Ogbodu, Counsel to — quickly advised that it high time political parties started resolving their problems internally instead of dragging the court into their political squabbles noting that the court is already overburdened with cases.
“By the judgement of the court today, basically, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is a bonafide member of APC and he is qualified to contest the governorship election on behalf of that party. That is the basics of the judgment today.
“I am absolutely satisfied. Politicians. They should learn how not to drag the judiciary into their internal party affairs or political squabbles.
“We have had enough of internal squabbles of political parties. Political leaders should learn how to resolve their difference outside the judiciary and not because we don’t have confidence in the judiciary, we maintain the confidence there but they had better resolve it in order not to heat up the polity.
“Heating up the polity is not of the best interest of the economy either economically or politically. We should grow and be mature politically.
“It is not at every turn, you run to court over a baseless action of membership of a voluntary organization like APC”, Ogbodu said.
The counsel to the plaintiff, Mr.Owotori Santus said he would study the judgment and that what should be done next would be subjected to the decision of his clients.
“The court held that the court doesn’t have jurisdiction to determine the membership of a political party and that an issue of waiver is an internal affair of the political party.
“But that the issue of whether section 312 of APC constitution conflicts with the section 177c of the Nigerian constitution which is one of their groans, that section is invalid but it cannot be used to determine whether there was a waiver or not because the minutes of the meeting granting the waiver was not there for the court.”
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