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LP factions clash in court over suit against Imo guber candidate

LP factions clash in court over suit against Imo guber candidate
November 23
19:17 2023

Two factions of the Labour Party (LP), on Thursday, exchanged words at the premises of the federal high court in Abuja.

The altercation between the two factions occurred shortly after the court adjourned for hearing, an application to discontinue a suit against Athan Achonu, the LP’s governorship candidate in Imo in the November 11 election.

Inyang Ekwo, the presiding judge, adjourned the hearing to January 11 after Kehinde Edun, who announced an appearance for LP (1st plaintiff), said he was in court to file a discontinuance notice in the matter.

Edun, who also introduced himself as the national legal adviser of LP, said “on behalf of the 1st plaintiff, we want to inform the court that the 1st plaintiff was joined without authorisation”.

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“I am here to file a notice of discontinuance. We have no case against the defendant (Independent National Electoral Commission),” he told the court.

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

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

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“The national legal adviser said the suit was filed without authorisation,” the judge told Asemota.

But Asemota said Edun was not the party’s national legal adviser.

Asemota stated that the LP, whom he represented in court, had not briefed him about the discontinuance of the suit.

The lawyer added that he had not been served with the notice Edun planned to file.

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He argued that as a procedure, Edun had to be in the matter first by applying to be joined before he would notify him of his plan to file a notice of discontinuance.

The judge then asked Edun if he had served Asemota with the application.

“I will serve them now,” Edun responded.

Ekwo subsequently adjourned the matter to January 11 to hear the notice of discontinuance.

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Asemota represented the Lamidi Apapa-led faction, while Edun appeared for the Julius Abure group of the LP.

Shortly after the adjournment of the matter, some members loyal to the Apapa-led faction appeared in court, challenging Edun’s move to discontinue the suit.

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The development resulted in a loud exchange of words, prompting the officers of the King’s guard, a security outfit, and some staff members of the court to intervene.

BACKGROUND

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The Apapa-led faction had sought an order of interim injunction restraining INEC from “recognising any other person or persons laying claim to the LP governorship ticket for the November 11 election other than Joseph Ukaegbu that was elected from the primary conducted by its national working committee (NWC) on April 16.

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

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Also, the group requested an order of mandatory injunction directing INEC to upload Apapa’s name as the acting national chairman of the LP.

But the judge declined the motion, directing them to put INEC on notice to respond to the motion.

In its response, INEC asked the court to dismiss 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 the judge that the plaintiffs’ suit was statute-barred.

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