The Court of Appeal, Enugu Division has set aside the decision of the Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki delivered on 3rd August, 2022. In a unanimous decision in appeal No. CA/E/224/2022 between Labour Party and its officials and Eze Oko, the Court held that the appellants were denied fair hearing.

The court upheld the argument by the Lead Counsel for Labour Party, Mr. Chijioke Emeka (SAN) on the power of the party to determine its caretaker leadership. It also set aside the decision of the lower court restraining Labour Party and INEC from substituting its candidate as being speculative and anticipatory, and agreed with the party that nothing was placed before the lower court to support the claim.

The Appeal Court panel was constituted by Justices Uzoamaka Ndukwe-Anyanwu, Joseph Olubunmi Oyewole, and Joseph Eyo Ekanem. Justice Ekanem read the lead judgement setting aside the decision of the lower court.

In the original suit, the Plaintiff, Mr. Eze Oko, challenged his removal as Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of Labour Party in Ebonyi State and the appointment of Hon. Jioke Godwin in his stead.

Oko had also asked the lower court to restrain Labour Party and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from effecting any change in its candidature in Ebonyi State for the governorship election. All the prayers were granted.

But Emeka had argued before the Court of Appeal justices that Labour Party was denied fair hearing in the manner in which the court entered judgment against the appellants. He argued that the party has power to control its leadership without judicial interference. The senior lawyer also contended that the issue on the governorship candidature of Labour Party in Ebonyi State was speculative and premature.

Mr. E. C. Ikeji, Counsel for the 1st Respondent, argued that Labour Party was given fair hearing by the lower court, adding that although Oko’s tenure as caretaker chairman had lapsed, the lower court was right to grant him reliefs relating to his governorship candidature of Labour Party for the 2023 election.

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