The issue of whether or not Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, is a member of the party, has been laid to rest as Edo State High Court affirmed his membership. The court held that Ize-Iyamu is a bonafide and duly registered member of the party.
The court also resolved the issue of waiver granted Ize-Iyamu by the National Working Committee, NWC, on May 21, in his favour, holding that it was not necessary in the first instance.
Delivering judgment on Thursday, the presiding judge of Edo High Court 6, Benin, Justice Emmanuel Ahamioje dismissed the suit which was filed by a faction of the APC loyal to the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, as baseless and lacking in evidence.
The suit was instituted by factional deputy chairman of the party, Kenneth Asekomhe, who was a fortnight ago expelled for anti-party activities by the now dissolved NWC of the party, and three others namely Benjamin Oghumu, Mathew Ogbebor and Unweni Nosa.
They had challenged the eligibility of Ize-Iyamu to represent the APC in elections over claims that he was not duly registered as a member. However, in his ruling on the matter, Ahamioje disagreed. He dismissed the suit in its entirety on the grounds that it was founded on assumptions, speculations, conjectures and guess work.
He said no iota of fact was cited to back the claims of the petitioners that Ize-Iyamu failed to satisfy any requirement in his registration as a member of the party. The Court further held that the membership card presented by Ize-Iyamu conclusively showed that he is a member of the party, and those challenging it presented no convincing evidence to state otherwise.
Perhaps most significant and germane was the position of the court that the membership of a party is an internal affair of the political party and therefore, a non-justiciable matter. Ahamioje consequently submitted that the court had no jurisdiction to interfere in the matter, thus permanently laying it to rest.
Addressing journalists shortly after the judgment, Counsel to the 1st and 2nd Defedants, Victor Ohiosumua said the Lordship in his ruling said the court had no jurisdiction to dabble into what should be the internal affairs of any political parties.
“He has come to the conclusion that Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is a registered member of APC and he is qualified to contest the primary that was held last Monday. So, all issues about membership has now been resolved”, he said.
Corroborating Ohiosumua, Henry Ogbodu, senior advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Counsel to Ize-Iyamu, asserted that it was high time political parties started resolving their problems internally instead of dragging the court into their political squabbles. He said the court was already overburdened with cases.
“The judgment 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. Number one, politicians, by this judgment, should learn to settle their differences themselves. 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 it is 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 in 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.
But Counsel to the plantiffs, Owotori Santus, said he would study the judgment and the next line of action would be decided by his clients.
“It has been delivered. We will look at it, glance through the reasons the court gave and discuss with our clients and move ahead”, he said.
Ahamioje, who left no one in doubt as to his integrity and incorruptibility, had when he reserved the matter for judgment after submissions by counsel to the parties, warned lawyers, politicians and their agents against any attempt to bribe or blackmail him over the matter.
Justice Ahamioje cautioned: “Do not give money to anybody on my behalf. I will never send anybody to collect money for me.”