The Senator Rufai Hanga-led faction of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) failed in its bid to remove the party's National Chairman, Prince Tony Momoh, as a Federal Capital Territory High Court yesterday, struck out its suit.
In the aftermath of the court’s ruling, the party yesterday announced the expulsion of Senator Hanga and three others with immediate effect.
Hanga, who was CPC's former national chairman, had led some members of his party, including the then protem secretary, Alhaji Badmos Mutalib, to file an originating summons challenging the legitimacy of the Momoh-led National Executive Committee (NEC).
The plaintiffs had claimed that the NEC of the party that emerged from the January 4 – 6, 2011 national convention was not properly elected, having allegedly failed to comply with the constitution of the party.
Accordingly, they urged the court to hold that any decision made by the Momoh-led national executive was “illegal, null and void.”
They further asked the court to make an order directing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to deal with the defendants.
In opposition to the originating summons, Momoh filed a preliminary objection where he challenged the locus standi of the plaintiffs to commence the suit.
Specifically, Momoh argued that the plaintiffs did not explore the internal mechanism of resolving intra-party disputes before approaching the court.
Momoh also submitted that the action of Hanga and others was “statute barred”, having been overtaken by Section 2(a) of the Public Officers’ Protection Act.
In her judgment, presiding judge, Justice Adebukola Banjoko, held that the plaintiffs did not explore the party's dispute resolution mechanism and that the suit was statute barred.
In the final analysis, the court struck out the suit and upheld the preliminary objection by the defendant.
While striking out the matter, the court also noted that one of the plaintiffs, Dennis Aghanya, was under suspension at the material time.
Banjoko also held that the failure of the plaintiffs to list the presidential candidate of the CPC and former military head of state, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), who emerged alongside others, dealt a fatal blow to their case.
The trial judge maintained that there was no need to delve into the substantive suit, having decided on almost all issues raised in the preliminary objection in favour of the defendant.
In a swift reaction to the judgment of the court, the CPC yesterday announced the expulsion of its estranged former national chairman and three others with immediate effect.
A statement issued by the National Publicity Secretary of CPC, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, listed other members of the party expelled alongside Hanga to include Alhaji Badmus Mutalif, Alhaji Abdulwaheed Adebayo Adeleke and former National Publicity Secretary, Chief Dennis Aghanya.
However, they might be re-admitted into the CPC fold after showing remorse and complying with the party’s procedure for re-integration, a source in the party informed CODEWIT.