Justice James Omotosho of a Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday, nullified the expulsion of a former Governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani, from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Justice Omotosho nullified Nnamani’s expulsion on the grounds that he was not given fair hearing in accordance with the PDP Constitution.
Delivering judgment in the suit filed by the former governor challenging his expulsion from the PDP, over alleged anti-party activities, the court observed that Article 57 of the Constitution of the PDP stipulated that only the National Executive Council (NEC) has the powers to convene a disciplinary committee as against the National Working Committee (NWC), which took the decision.
The court, while remarking that the Supreme Court held that the issue of party membership, etc, was within the party’s jurisdiction and a no-go area to the courts, argued that Section 46(2) of the Constitution vested the power on the court to hear alleged breach of person’s rights.
“This court will not dabble into the internal affairs of party but will restrict itself to whether the fundamental right of the plaintiff has been breached,” he said.
He said though these rights were not absolute, they were entrenched in Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, and that the African Charter on Peoples Rights also made provisions for fundamental rights.
The judge agreed that a member of a political party must abide by its rules and regulation, having freely submitted himself to its rules, but said the court would only interfere where the party had violated its own rules and regulation.
“But the complaint of the plaintiff is that he was not given fair hearing,” in accordance with Article 57 of the party’s constitution, the judge held.
While describing the party’s action as a gross violation of its own constitution, the judge held that it has rendered all the actions null and avoid.
He said the court was convinced that the plaintiff had been able to establish his case against the respondents, and consequently gave an order nullifying the decision of the PDP NWC that was taken on February 10, expelling the ex-lawmaker.
The PDP NWC, had at its 566th meeting held on February 10, expelled Nnamani over allegations bordering on anti-party activities.
He was initially suspended on January 20, before he was subsequently expelled.
His party had accused him of campaigning for the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu, against the PDP’s candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.