Ratio Decidendi
Electoral Matters — Intra-party Dispute — Whether the court will interfere in intra-party disputes
His Lordship went further in Agi, SAN v. People’s Democratic Party and characterized a Political Party as “a Club, a voluntary association. It has its rules, regulations, guidelines and Constitution.Members join the party on their own free will. By joining they have freely given their consent to be bound by the rules, regulations, guidelines and Constitution of the party. These rules of the party must be obeyed by all members of the Party, as the party's decision is final over its own affairs. Members of a Party would do well to understand and appreciate the finality of a party's decision over its domestic or internal affairs. The Court would only interfere where the party has violated its own rules.Where the National Working Committee of the 1st respondent regards a person as a member of the party eligible to contest the primaries, no member of the party can complain against such a decision. Both Courts below were correct that the 3rd respondent is a member of the 1st respondent. Such an issue is within the domestic and internal affairs of the 1st respondent over which the Courts have no jurisdiction and as such is not justiciable."The Supreme Court had earlier on, in Emenike v. PDP (2012) 12 NWLR Part 1315 page 556, per Chukwuma-Eneh, JSC., when deciding whether the issue of a political party choosing its candidates for elective offices is justiciable held that-"It is settled that notwithstanding the Electoral Act 2010 as amended) the issue of a political party choosing its candidates for elective offices is non-justiciable being a domestic (i.e. internal) affair of the party. It is a political question. In other words, a member who is aggrieved has no cause of action as it has not raised any question as to the rights and obligations of the member determinable by a court of law. See Onuoha v. Okafor (supra) and Thomas v. Olufosoye (1986) 1 NWLR (pt.18) 669 per Obaseki JSC. Again this point has also been expounded as settled law by Nnamani JSC (of blessed memory) in the case of Abraham Adesanya v. The President Federal Republic of Nigeria (1981) 5 SC. 112 at 187-188 thus: "Section 6(6) (b) to my mind encompasses the full extent of judicial power vested in the Courts by the constitution. Under it the courts have power to adjudicate on a justiciable issue touching on rights and obligations of the person who brings the complaint to Court... It seems to me that the Courts must operate within the perimeter of the judicial powers vested in them by section 6(6)(b) of the Constitution and that they can only take cognizance of justiciable actions properly brought before them in which there is dispute, controversy and above all, in which the parties have sufficient interest.”I cannot round off this intriguing point on whether issues on the internal affairs of a political party are within the exclusive province of the party without making reference to the decision of this Court in Umeh v. Ejike (2013) LPELR-23506(CA), per Galinje, JCA (as he then was)wherein he said:"On whether the Courts can exercise jurisdiction on internal affairs of a political party, the law is still extant that political questions as to how a political party should be run or who should be its candidate at an election is strictly a matter within the exclusive jurisdiction of the political parties. The Courts have no jurisdiction to interfere in that regard. See Ehinlawo v. Oke (2008) 16 NWLR (Pt. 1113) 357 at 402. In Abdulkadir v. Mamman (2003) 15 NWLR (Pt. 839) 1 at 33, this Court per Muhammed JCA, had this to say:- "It is trite law that an intra-party governance is entirely within the province of the party. It is not the role of the Court to make appointments of persons to hold party offices. The question of the candidate a political party will sponsor is more in the nature of a political question which the Courts are not qualified to deliberate upon and answer. See Onuoha v. Okafor & Others (1983) 2 SCNLR 244, (1989) 14 NWLR (Pt. 183) 30, Bakam v. Abubakar (1991) 6 NWLR (Pt. 199) 564. In the instant case, the subject matter of the complaints and claims of the Respondents are related to the internal affairs of APGA, a political party. In the circumstance, the trial Court had no jurisdiction to determine the case. Since the lower Court was drained of jurisdiction over the matter, the best thing to do in the circumstance was to strike out the case. Article 21(1)(c) of APGA Constitution provides as follows:- "No member of the party shall take the party to any Court of Justice in the land, no matter the circumstances and under any condition. The relevant authorities and agencies within the party shall resolve all matters affecting the members of the party. A member who takes the party to Court shall lose his/her membership, the date of which shall be determined by the General Convention." The provision is made to strengthen the internal dispute resolution mechanism within the party and to emphasize the non justiceable nature of internal dispute within the party." 
Ratio Decidendi
Jurisdiction — Federal High Court — Whether the Federal High Court has jurisdiction in all cases involving the Federal Government or any of its agencies
In Azagba v. Nigerian College of Aviation Technology Zaria (2013) LPELR-20740, it was held that section 251 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria has distinctly enumerated the items which fall within the jurisdictional competence of the Federal High Court to determine, therefore, it is not every case a Federal Agency is involved in, that the Federal High Court has jurisdiction to entertain. The subject matter of the plaintiff’s claim as well as the reliefs being sought must be within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to adjudicate upon by virtue of the provisions of Section 251 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. See also the Supreme Court decision in Ocholi Enojo James, SAN v. INEC (2015) 12 NWLR Part 1474 page 538, per Kekere-Ekun, JSC, wherein it was held thus:"...The section provides thus: 251(1) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in this Constitution and in addition to such other jurisdiction as may be conferred upon it by an Act of the National Assembly, the Federal High Court shall have and exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other court in civil causes and matters - (q) subject to the provision of this Constitution, the operation and interpretation of this Constitution in so far as it affects the Federal Government or any of its agencies; (r) any action or proceeding for a declaration or injunction affecting the validity of any executive or administrative action or decision by the Federal Government or any of its agencies." It is not in doubt that the 1st respondent, the Independent National Electoral Commission, is an agency of the Federal Government. However, as rightly submitted by learned counsel for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents, the section does not confer a blanket jurisdiction on the Federal High Court in respect of matters in which an agency of the Federal Government is a party. This court in Ohakim v. Agbaso (2010) 19 NWLR (Pt. 1226) 172 @ 236 - 237 G - D per Mohammed, JSC (now CJN) put the matter succinctly when it stated thus: "...The fact that the action was against the respondents who are no doubt agents of the Federal Government of Nigeria does not ipso facto bring the case within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, unless and until the other requirements of the law touching on the subject matter of the claims, is also satisfied. In other words, the subject matter of the action must also fall squarely within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court before the court can assume jurisdiction in a case against the Federal Government or any of its agencies." His Lordship restated the principles on the issue, as laid down in: Madukolu v. Nkemdilim (1962) 1 All NLR 587 @ 595 and reiterated that one of the conditions to be satisfied is that the subject matter of the case must be within the jurisdiction of the court. See also: Adetayo v. Ademola (2010) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1215) 169 @ 190 F - G. I have no doubt in my mind that in the instant case, notwithstanding the ingenious manner in which the questions for determination and reliefs sought in the amended originating summons are couched, the purpose of the entire suit is to nullify the return of the 3rd respondent as Governor of Kogi State and to declare the appellant the lawful winner of the election that took place on 3rd December 2011."The subject matter of the plaintiffs claim as well as the reliefs being sought for are outside the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to adjudicate upon by virtue of the provisions of Section 251 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as non-justiciable disputes or claims are not determinable by Courts of law including the Federal High Court irrespective of the joinder of the 2ndand 3rdRespondents to the suit. I totally agree with the submissions of the 1st, 4th and 5th Respondents’ Learned Senior Counsel. It is not in doubt that the 2nd Respondent, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is a Federal Government Agency but that alone cannot confer jurisdictional competence on the Federal High Court when it lacked the subject matter jurisdiction, that is, the authority to hear cases of a particular type or cases relating to a specific subject matter.
Ratio Decidendi
Court — Justiciable dispute — The rule that the courts can only invoke their judicial power where the matter is justiciable
bearing in mind the doctrine of stare decisis, I would at this juncture have recourse to the decision of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in Nigercare Development Co. Ltd v. Adamawa State Water Board (2008) 9 NWLR Part 1093 page 498, where, in its dissection of the nature of disputes determinable by Courts under the said section of the Constitution as amended, opined that “Courts of law can only invoke their judicial powers under Section 6 of the Constitution (relevantly the 1979 Constitution) where a matter is justiciable, Courts of law have no competence to invoke their judicial power if a matter is not justiciable. Where a statute provides for a condition precedent to the filing of an action in a Court of law and has no jurisdiction to invoke its Section 6 judicial powers."What this means in essence is that notwithstanding how grave and offensive the actions of another may be, the primary consideration will be “Is it justiciable”, that is, capable of being determined by a Court of law because not all cases brought before Courts are accepted for their review. If a case is non justiciable then the Court cannot hear it.
Ratio Decidendi
Court — Justiciable dispute — What constitutes a justiciable dispute
As has been demonstrated in several authorities and Wikipedia in particular, for an issue or a dispute to be justiciable, the parties in the action must not be seeking an advisory opinion; secondly, there must be actual controversy between the parties, meaning that the parties cannot agree to a lawsuit where all the parties seek the same particular judgment from the Court(known as collusive or friendly suit); rather, the parties must each be seeking a different outcome; thirdly, the question must be neither unripe nor moot; and fourthly, the suit must not be seeking judgment upon a political question.
Ratio Decidendi
Court — Justiciable dispute — What constitutes a justiciable dispute
Also, the Supreme Court in Ufomba v. INEC (2017) 13 NWLR Part 1582 page 175 recapitulated the definition of the word “justiciable” as ascribed in the Black’s Law Dictionary at page 944 thus: “A case or dispute properly brought before a Court of justice: capable of being disposed of judicially.” So, for a Court to have powers to entertain any dispute or matter, that matter must be capable of being determined by a Court of law. According to Wikipedia, “justiciability concerns the limits upon legal issues over which a Court can exercise its judicial authority. Essentially, it seeks to address whether a Court possesses the ability to provide adequate resolution of the dispute; where a Court believes that it cannot offer such a final determination, the matter is not justiciable.” Further, in Uwazuruonye v. Gov. of Imo State (2013) 8 NWLR Part 1355 page 28, Rhodes-Vivour, JSC, stated that “A justiciable matter is one in which the plaintiff has a cause of action. Courts only consider justiciable issues or controversy and do not bother spending precious judicial time with hypothetical disputes or one that is academic or moot. See Oyeneye v. Odugbesan 1972 4 SC P.244 Okulate v. Awosanya 2000 2 NWLR pt.646 p.530; Bakare v. A.C.B. Ltd.1986 3 NWLR pt. 26 p.47, Bamgboye v. Unilorin 1999 10 NWLR pt.622 p.290.”
Ratio Decidendi
Electoral Matters — Intra-party Dispute — Meaning of Intra-party Dispute
To properly appreciate the intricacies of the case, I must make reference to the case of Dahiru v. APC, where the Supreme Court, per Rhodes-Vivour, JSC., painted a glowing picture of what an intra-party dispute is. His Lordship described an intra-party dispute as a dispute between members of the party interse or between a member or members on the one hand or and the party on the other hand.”
Ratio Decidendi
Jurisdiction — Subject-matter Jurisdiction — Whether subject-matter jurisdiction can be waived
Unlike personal or territorial jurisdiction, lack of subject-matter jurisdiction cannot be waived. A judgment from a Court that did not have subject-matter jurisdiction is forever a nullity. To decide a case, a Court must have a combination of subject (subjectam) and either personal (personam) or territorial (locum) jurisdiction.
Ratio Decidendi
Judgment and Order — Judgment of court — The fundamental constitutional requirements for a valid judgment
Subject-matter jurisdiction, personal or territorial jurisdiction, and adequate notice are the three most fundamental constitutional requirements for a valid judgment.
Ratio Decidendi
Court — Registrar of court — The principle that it is the claim of the plaintiff that determines jurisdiction — Duty of registrar of court when an appeal is filed
It is trite that the jurisdiction of the Court will be determined by the subject matter of the claim. In Adeyemi & Ors. v. Opeyori (1976) 1 F.N.L.L. 149, the Supreme Court stated that it is fundamental that it is the claim of the Plaintiff that determines the jurisdiction of the Court which entertains the claim.



OLADIMEJI SAMSON OLALEKAN
V.
PDP & ORS.

(2021) JELR 108767 (CA)    
Court of Appeal  ·  CA/EK/57/2020 ·  27 Jan 2021 ·  Nigeria
CORAM
THERESA NGOLIKA ORJI-ABADUA, PJCA FATIMA O. AKINBAMI, JCA PAUL OBI ELECHI, JCA

Ratio Decidendi

Core Terms Beta
appellant
ekiti state
nwlr part
lower court
senior counsel
learned senior counsel
circumstances of this case
decision of this court
electoral committee
learned trial judge
pdp v
zonal congress
ado-ekiti judicial division
concocted ward congress election result
ekiti state chairman
elected officers
election of the plaintiff
high court
honourable court
host of other cases
justiciable interest
law firm of the appellant
list of the winners
members of the ward executive committees
officers of the party
order of the lower court dismissing
order of this honourable court
party executive committee
suit no. fhc
supreme court decision
ward congresses election

THERESA NGOLIKA ORJI-ABADUA, J.C.A. (Delivering the Leading Judgment): This appeal stemmed from the ruling delivered on the the 17th July, 2020 by the Federal High Court in the Ado-Ekiti Judicial Division in suit No. FHC/AD/CS/14/2020 sustaining the Preliminary Objection raised by the 1st, 4th and 5th Respondents herein against the substantive suit commenced by the Appellant on the 20th March, 2020 by way of Originating Summons, and, declining jurisdiction to entertain and determine the suit. In the Amended Originating Summons filed by the Appellant on the 40th June, 2020, he sought for the following reliefs:

“1. A DECLARATION that upon the community reading of Chapter 4, Section 15 of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party and Paragraphs 2.3, 2.5, 2.6, and 2.7 of the Guidelines for the conduct of the Ward, Local Government, State and Zonal Congress for the purpose of electing Party Executive Committee at all levels, the election of the plaintiff and other members of the Ward Executive Committees in 177 Wards in Ekiti State held on 7th March, 2020 was valid, regular, constitutional and they stand duly elected.

2. A DECLARATION that the Plaintiff and those he represented contested and won the Ward Congresses election in the 177 Wards in Ekiti State for the various offices held on 7th March, 2020 having no opponents and thus returned elected unopposed by the Electoral Committee put in place by the 1st Defendant.

3. A DECLARATION that it is unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful and against the rule of law of the 1st Defendant to use and/or rely on the concocted Ward Congress Election result unilaterally prepared by the 4th Defendant other than the list of the winners that emerged from the Ward Congresses that held in 177 Wards in Ekiti State on the 7th on March, 2020.

4. A DECLARATION that by virtue of the Constitution of the 1st Defendant and the Guidelines issued for the purpose of electing officers of the party at the Ward levels through Ward Congresses, only party members who obtained nomination forms and duly nominated in accordance with the Constitution and Guidelines can participate at such congresses.

5. AN ORDER nullifying any purposed expropriation of the Plaintiffs’ election in favour of any other person(s) under any guise or sobriquet adopted by the 1st Defendant.

6. AN ORDER restraining the Defendants by themselves, privies, agents or anyone acting for them from unlawfully interfering with the Plaintiffs’ election held across the 177 Wards in Ekiti State on 7th March, 2020 same having been held in substantial compliance with the Constitution of the 1st Defendant.

7. AN ORDER of injunction restraining the 4th and 5th Defendants either by themselves, their agents, privies, servants, officer, official or any other person deriving authority through them howsoever and whatsoever from submitting, forwarding, and/or tendering the name of any other person apart from the Plaintiffs to the 1st Defendant and/or any authority as the emerged officials and adhoc delegates from the 177 Ward Congress Election in Ekiti State held on 7th March, 2020.

8. AN ORDER of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st Defendant from publishing or using the purported result unilaterally prepared by the 4th Defendant and his Committee in respect of 177 Wards in Ekiti State for the purposes of the Local Government, State and Zonal Congresses for Ekiti State.

9. AN ORDER directing the Defendant to recognize and publish only the list of the names of the Plaintiff and those he represented as the Ward Executives and Ad-Hoc Delegates that emerged from the election across the 177 Wards in Ekiti State during the Ward Congress held on 7th March, 2020 as witnessed and supervised by the officials of 2nd Defendant and agents of the 3rd Defendant.

10. AN ORDER mandating the 2nd and 3rd Defendants not to recognize, deal with work on or have anything to do with the list submitted by the 4th and 5th Defendant in respect of the Ward Congress of the 1st Defendant held on the 7th March, 2020 as same does not reflect the actual result of the election held in all the 177 Wards in Ekiti State.

11. IN THE ALTERNATIVE, AN ORDER of this Honourable Court directing the 1st Defendant to convey another Ward Congress to elect Ward Executive and 3 ad-hoc delegates in the 177 Wards in Ekiti State using only the list of the Plaintiffs and those he is representing in this suit been the only people that obtained nomination forms for the Ward Congress of 7th March, 2020.

12. AND for such further Orders/Reliefs which the Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances of this Case.

The Questions raised for determination therein are thus:

“1. Whether after due consideration of the provisions of the constitution of the 1st Defendant and the Guidelines for the Conduct of Ward, Local Government, State and Zonal Congress for the purpose of electing party Executive committees at all level viz-a-viz the election conducted for the 177 Wards in Ekiti State on 7th March, 2020 wherein the Plaintiffs emerged successful and whether the 1st and 4th Defendants can expropriate their emergence under any guise.

2. Whether after due construction of the 1st Defendant Constitution the 1st and 4th Defendants can unilaterally substitute the original names of committee members authorized to conduct the Congress and/or concoct Ward Congress Election results that is at variance with the result of Congress election held in Ekiti State on 7th March, 2020 which was done in substantial compliance with the Constitution and Guidelines of the 1st Defendant and witnessed by the agents of the 2nd and 3rd Defendants.

3. Whether after due consideration of the Constitution of the 1st Defendant, the Defendants can allow persons who did not purchase nomination forms for any of the offices being contested for, and vest such persons with interest for those offices over which the Plaintiffs’ contested for as unopposed sole candidates.”

The facts were buttressed in the affidavit of 44 paragraphs attached thereto and deposed to by the Appellant himself together with documentary evidence also attached to the affidavit as Exhibits A to K-K1.However, on 1/7/2020, the 1st, 4th and 5th Respondents filed a Notice of Preliminary Objection for an Order of the lower Court dismissing or striking out the suit in limine for want of jurisdiction. The Objection was hinged on 15 grounds as demonstrated on the Notice of Objection. The facts in support of the Objection were expatiated upon in the 33 paragraph affidavit sworn to by one Sunday Olowolafe, Esq., a Legal Practitioner and the immediate past State Legal Adviser of Peoples Democratic Party in Ekiti State.

The Appellant, on 2/7/2020, filed a counter-affidavit of 11 paragraphs challenging all the facts raised in the main affidavit which was sworn to by one Stephen Ademuagun, Esq., an associate Legal Practitioner in the Law Firm of the Appellant’s Senior Counsel. On 3/7/2020, the 1st, 4th and 5th Respondents filed a Further Affidavit in response to the counter-affidavit of the 2nd July, 2020. It is also instructive to note that the 1st, 4th and 5th Respondents filed their Counter-Affidavit to the Amended Originating Summons filed by the Appellant on 30/6/2020. In the Ruling delivered by the lower Court on 17/7/2020, it held that the reliefs sought by the Appellant are not justiciable and the suit was dismissed for not being justiciable. The Notice of Appeal was filed on 28/7/2020 based on nine grounds of appeal. The records of appeal comprising two Volumes were transmitted to this Court on 10/8/2020. The Briefs of Argument were respectively filed on 2/9/2020, 5/10/2020 and 5/10/2020 by the Appellant, 1st, 4th and 5th Respondents and 3rd Respondent respectively. The Appellant’s Reply Brief to the 1st, 4th and 5th Respondents’ Brief and the 3rd Respondent’s Brief were filed on 12/19/2020 respectively.

In the Appellant’s Brief there issues were projected for determination in this appeal. They are as follows:

“1. Whether from the facts and circumstances of this case the grievances of the Appellant is not justiciable and the preliminary objection is not devoid of facts to determine it.

2. Whether considering the nature of the reliefs sought and the presence of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents, the trial court does not have the jurisdictional competence on the parties and matter before the court to determine the case of the Appellant.

3. Whether finding of Illegal Ward Congress is supported by the facts and evidence presented by parties.”

The 1st, 4th and Respondents for their part projected two issues thus:

“1. Whether the learned trial Judge was right in upholding the 1st, and 5th Respondents’ Preliminary objection to the jurisdiction of the lower court to entertain the Appellant’s suit on the grounds that the Appellant’s claims are not justiciable and not cognisable under Section 251 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended or any Act of the National Assembly conferring jurisdiction on the High Court. 

2. Whether the learned trial Judge’s finding that two Ward Congress Elections were held on 7th March, 2020 is supported by the evidence placed before the lower Court by the Appellant and the 1st4th and 5th Respondents. 

3rd Respondent proceeded a lone issue in the like manner.

“Whether the Appellant was right to have joined the 3rd Respondent as party in the suit at the Lower Court and using the joinder as a reason to confer jurisdiction on the Lower Court”

In the Appellant’s Brief which was adopted as his argument in this appeal, the Appellant via his learned Senior Counsel, Prof. Wahab O. Egbewole, SAN, had argued that by the provisions of section 6(6)(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, the Courts have unfettered powers to determine all disputes between persons and authorities without any exception. He supported it with a decision of this Court in Kulak Trades and Industries Plc v. The Tug Boat M/V Japual B. and anor (2011) LPELR-8630 where the term “justiciable interest” was defined as a cause of complaint, the civil right or obligation fit for determination by a Court of Law, and a dispute in respect of which a Court of Law is entitled to invoke its judicial powers to determine under section 6(6)(b) of the 1999 Constitution. He then queried whether there is a dispute between the Appellant and the Respondents. He relied on Chinwo v. Owhonda (2008) 3 NWLR Part 1074 page 341 at 360 and Amah v. Nwankwo (2007) 12 NWLR Part 1049 page 552 and submitted that a suit is justiciable when the claimant has referred to a real and substantial controversy or breach of his fundamental rights which is ripe for Court’s determination. He submitted that in the instant appeal, the Appellant and those he represents are challenging the rights of the 1st, 4th and 5th Respondents to change their fortune as duly elected executives of the 1st Respondent from the Ward Congress election conducted on the 7th March, 2020. He referred to the lower Court’s remark depicted at page 1344 Volume II of the record that section 6(6)(b) of the Constitution does not clothe the Courts with jurisdiction to determine cases that they do not have statutory backing to determine, and, then contended no such exception was provided in the said constitutional provision. He also pointed out that the cases relied on by the lower Court in that respect did not consider the provisions of section 6(6)(b) of the Constitution. He stressed that the main grouse of the Appellant and his group is that the 1st, 4th and 5th Respondents acted in flagrant disobedience to the 1st Respondent’s Constitution and Guidelines for the conduct of Ward Congress in refusing to acknowledge the election of the Appellant and failure to collate the result but instead inputted strange names in the result collation sheet. He argued that the question of compliance with the Constitution of the 1st Respondent and its Guidelines is one of the matters that can be determined by Court. He stated that the 1st, 4th and 5th Respondents failed to follow the provisions of its Constitution and Guidelines in the conduct of the Ward Congress especially in the results returned and that is clearly a justiciable and triable issue by Court. Learned Senior Counsel explained that the 1st Respondent appointed a Congress Committee which was expected to move to Ekiti State on a day before the exercise in accordance with the protocol and conventions of the 1st Respondent operations on Congresses. He tried to explain how such election is usually conducted at the Wards by Ward Electoral Officers who will report to the 2 Local Government Officers and who in turn will submit the results to the 4th Respondent Committee for Collation. He said that the parties were in agreement that there are 177 Wards in Ekiti State and that there are 32 people appointed to supervise the election. They agreed that the 32 persons can only supervise and not conduct. It was stated that since the Ward Congress were conducted simultaneously, it was impossible for only two persons to conduct election in 10 Wards at the same time. The Learned Senior Counsel stated that by the Appellant’s view point, the Ward Electoral Officers are actually the officers in the various Wards in the State and that it is their result that should be acted upon by the Ward Congress Committee for Ekiti State under the Chairmanship of the 4th Respondent. Learned Senior Counsel then emphasised that all the steps were complied with. Learned Senior alleged that at the point of collation the 4th Respondent was no where to be found. Eventually when he showed up and insisted that the process be repeated and in spite of the protestation of the stakeholders to the directive, the same was complied with. (This shows that a second election was conducted after the arrival of the 4th Defendant and his National Working Committee appointed by the 1st Defendant strictly for that purpose). It was argued that notwithstanding the compliance of the Appellant and those he represents with all the steps set up by the 1st Respondent, the 4th Respondent made himself unavailable but later showed up for the process to be repeated. It was argued that the Appellant and those he represents cannot be punished because of the 4th Respondent’s failure and non-availability. It was said that the Ekiti State Chairman of the 1st Respondent in his report indicated those that obtained Nomination Forms for the purpose of the election held on the said 7/3/2020 and, in his affidavit, he clearly stated that only the Appellant and those he represents were the ones who collected and submitted Nomination Forms. He argued that those infractions of the Constitution and Guidelines of a political party with respect to the members of the political party especially when an aggrieved member has taken all the necessary remedial steps that he/she ought to take in the determination of his/her rights. The Appellant timeously made his grievances known to the Appeal Committee set up by the 1st Respondent, complied with all the administrative steps set up for the resolution of the complaints, and it was only after exhausting all internal remedies available to them that the suit was commenced. It was contended that by the report of the Chairman of the Appeal Panel, 5th Respondent shown in pages 508-519 Vol. I of the record, the Appellant clearly established that there was an infraction of the Constitution and Guidelines of the 1st Respondent. The Learned Senior Counsel strongly contended that the argument of internal affairs of a party must be balanced vis-a-vis the rights of members to approach the Courts to uphold the law. He then made reference to the cases of Umezinne v. A. G., Federation (2019) 11 NWLR Part 1683 page 358, Onuoha v. Okafor (1983) 2 NSCC page 505, PDP v. Sylvia (2012) 13 NWLR Part 1316 page 85, Lau v. PDP (2018) 4 NWLR Part 1608 page 60 at 123, and argued that by the established law, a party cannot be allowed to rely on his own wrongdoing nor benefit from his own iniquity or indolence particularly when he invokes technicality to shut the other party out from representing his case. It was then submitted that the 1st 4th and 5th Respondents having failed to comply with the laid down procedure for the conduct of the Ward Congress cannot now be allowed to dwell on the argument that the issues involved are internal party affairs over which the Courts lack jurisdiction. He further referred to the decision in Onuoha v. Okafor (supra) where it was held that political parties are like any other corporation that operates within the guidelines, the power and duties set out in its constitution. All its members are bound by its provisions and their rights and obligations created by the Constitution. Learned Senior Counsel submitted that the 1st Respondent cannot act arbitrarily or as it likes because as exemplified in the numerous decisions of the Courts, parties are bound by the Constitution of Nigeria, the Electoral Acts, their own Constitution and Guidelines. Political Parties including the 1st Respondent are mandatorily compelled to act in strict accordance with regulations put in place. He further highlighted an observation inone of the cases that where a political party refuses or neglects to abide by the provisions of its Constitution in its relationship with its members, then the culture of impunity would certainly set in and with it, chaos uncertainty and indiscipline; which should not be encouraged. He submitted that it is high time the doctrine of political questions be jettisoned to give way for justiciability as applicable in other jurisdictions. I must observe by this submission, the Learned Senior Counsel clearly acknowledged that questions touching on the internal affairs of a political party are political questions.

The impunity with which parties now operate with regard to election of their officers deserves a search light and the way the Court dealt with the issue of party primaries. He referred to Amaechi v. INEC (2007) 18 NWLR Part 1065 page 42, Inakoju v. Adeleke (2007) 4 NWLR Part 1025 page 423 and Chief Koku Gariga & ors v. Bayelsa State Independent Electoral Commission and ors (2012) LPELR -9294)(CA), and submitted that before the Supreme Court decision therein, a Political Party’s primary was a subject of internal affairs without regard to the Party’s Constitution, and the impeachment of political Office holders were regarded as non-justiciable.

He stressed that as all the Courts in Nigeria derived their powers from the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, it is their duty to ensure that citizens of Nigeria obtain the justice which their matters deserve. He called the attention of this Court to the Latin maxim “ubi jus ibi remedium ”which was re-emphasised by the Supreme Court in the case of Lau v. PDP (supra) meaning that “The court will not leave a victim of injustice helpless and without a remedy.” He argued that the claims of the Appellant are justiciable and that the lower Court erred in dismissing the claims without delving into the merits of the case. He then persuaded this Court to invoke its power sunder section 15 of the Court of Appeal Act to assume ‘full jurisdiction over the whole proceedings as if the proceedings had been instituted in this Court as a Court of first instance’ and rehear the case of the Appellant and grant the reliefs sought therein so as to avoid unnecessary delays in the final settlements of the disputes. He, therefore, urged that issue No. 1 be resolved in favour of the Appellant.

Arguing in respect of issue No. 2 which queries “whether considering the nature of the reliefs sought and the presence of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents, the trial Court does not have the jurisdictional competence on the parties and the subject matter before the Court to determine the case of the Appellant, ”the learned Senior Court made reference to certain decided cases on issue of jurisdiction and submitted that the exercise of jurisdiction in an action depends on whether the condition precedent to confer jurisdiction has been fulfilled. He relied on Madukolu v. Nkemdilim (1962) 2 NSCLR page 341, Christaben Group Ltd v. Oni (2010) All FWLR Part 504 page 143, Okoye v. Ude (2008) All FWLR Part 444 page 1433, etc., and stated that it is the claim of the Plaintiff that determines the jurisdiction of the Court. He argued that by section 251 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the Federal High Court has the exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine matters enumerated therein. He cited the cases of Dr. Oloruntoba-Oju v. Prof. P. A. Dopamu (2008) LPELR-2595, Abia State Independent Electoral Commission v. Kanu (2013) LPELR-20519; Adetayo v. Ademola (2010) 5 NWLR Part 1215 page 169 and a host of other cases where it was held that by section 251 of the Constitution, the Federal High Court has jurisdiction to solely determine any dispute irrespective of the nature of the claim, once the Federal Government or any of its agencies is involved. In other words, once any of the parties before a State High Court is the Federal Government or any of its agencies, the State High Court loses jurisdiction. He stated that the 2nd and 3rd Respondents are Federal Government agencies and creations of the Constitution. He explained that by the law establishing the 2nd Respondent, no valid Ward Congress can be held without the presence of the representatives of the 2nd Respondent and the action instituted also touched on the 2nd and 3rd Respondents’ exercise of their administrative or executive powers. He cited the case of Oladipo v. N.C.S.B (2009) 12 NWLR Part 1156 page 586, per Nweze, JCA (as he then was) where it was stated that an executive action must be an action concerned with or relating to the effectuation of the orders or plans or policies of the agency in question. An administrative action is an action directed towards achieving or carrying out the policies of the agency. He drew attention to the trial Court’s observation that there was nothing placed before it showing that the declaration and injunction being claimed relate to or affect the validity of any executive or administrative action or decision of the Federal Government or any of its agencies, and then argued that it contravened the decision of the Supreme Court in Abia State Ind. Elec. Comm v. Kanu (supra) and Oloruntoba-Oju v. Dopamu (supra). He stressed that the 2nd and 3rd Respondents have mandatory roles to play in the effective conduct of the Ward Congress of the 1st Respondent in the light of section 86 of the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended. He further relied on the decision in Okobiemen v. U.B.N Plc (2019) 4 NWLR Part 1662 page 265 at 280 and submitted that the 2nd and 3rd Respondents are necessary parties to the suit as their presence and roles played in the Ward Congress election held on 7/3/2020 are very vital. He touched on other points and then urged this Court to resolve the issue in favour of the Appellant.

In respect of issue three, it was contended that the case of the Appellant is that strange set of names were inputted in the result sheet instead of his name and the names of those he represents and not that another Ward Congress was conducted. He referred to paragraph 30 of the affidavit in support of the Originating Summons and paragraphs 27, 28 and 38 of the further affidavit. He stated that that was in complete violation of the Constitution and Guidelines of the 1st Respondent.

He said that it is the case of the Appellant and those he represents that the Ward Congress election was conducted by members of the electoral committee appointed by the National Working Committee of the 1st Respondent which is the appropriate body to conduct the election. He said that after the Ward Congress election was conducted by members of the Ward Congress Electoral Committee, the 4th Respondent refused to collate and issue results for the contestants. The 4th Respondent also failed to input the names of the Appellant and those he represents into Form ESR 01 in recognition of their emergence as duly elected executive officers of the 1st Respondent. He further said that it was never in issue that the State Chapter of the 1st Respondent conducted a different Ward election. He stated that the Appellant’s case was misunderstood by the lower Court and it wrongly reached the finding that the Appellant admitted to have participated in an illegal Ward Congress conducted by the State Chapter of the 1stRespondent.

He therefore, urged this Court to resolve this issue in his favour and allow the appeal.

In respect of the first issue presented by the 1st, 4th and 5th Respondents in their Brief of Argument, their learned Senior Counsel, Olalekan Ojo, SAN, made reference to several authorities including Maduemezia v. Uwaje (2013) LPELR-24542(CA), per Ogakwu, JCA; Umeh v. Okwu (2014) LPELR-24063; Ukut v. APC (2019) LPELR-47203 (CA) per Ogbuinya, JCA; Ufomba v. INEC (2017) LPELR-42079 (SC), per Sanusi, JSC; and Rhodes-Vivour, JSC; and PDP v. Badaire (2020) All FWLR Part 1024 where justiciable claims or disputes were amply analysed and set out particularly as they relate to intra-party disputes touching on the running and management of political parties. He quoted some excerpts from the various judgments showing the legal positions on the justiciability of any claim dealing with internal affairs or resolution of a political party over leadership of that political party, and submitted that the trial Court was right that the Appellant’s claims are not justiciable. He referred to the argument of the Appellant on section 6(6)(b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended that the lower Court has the jurisdiction to entertain the Appellant’s case, and on his suggestion that the decisions in the cases of Ufomba v. INEC (supra) and Ukut v. APC (supra) were reached per incuriam, and submitted that it is only the Supreme Court that can decide that it’s previous decision was reached per incuriam in the light of the decision in Veepee Industries Ltd v. Cocoa Industries Ltd (2008) LPELR-3461 and Dalhatu v. Turaki (2003) LPELR-917 (SC). He dwelt on the differences between the exercise of inherent powers of the Court and exercise of statutory jurisdiction by the Courts as expounded by the Supreme Court and, this Court in the cases of Gombe v. P.W. (Nig.) Ltd (1995) LPELR-1330 (SC); Esezoobo v. Shaba (2017) LPELR-42713 respectively and stated that the Appellant failed to appreciate the distinction between the two.

He further stressed that a close examination of the reliefs sought by the Appellant shows that the substance of their claims is that the Appellant and those he represents were duly elected as leaders of the 1st Respondent at the Ward Congress in Ekiti State held on 7/3/2020. He argued that any attempt to describe the claims as claims against alleged breaches by the 1st, 4th and 5th Respondents of the 1st Respondent’s Constitution and Guidelines is nothing but a sophistry.

 On the argument that the lower Court is clothed with the jurisdiction to entertain and determine the suit by section 251 of the 1999 Constitution as amended by reason of the fact that the 2nd and 3rd Respondents are agencies of the Federal Government charged with monitoring the conduct of the Ward Congress election, and, providing security during the said Ward Congress election respectively, it was contended that none of such was recognised by the said section 251 of the Constitution as amended and that none of the claims of the Appellant is against the administrative or executive decision or action of the 2nd and 3rdRespondents with regard to the conduct of the Ward Congress election in Ekiti State. Learned Senior Counsel further contended that mere addition of a Federal agency to a suit before the Federal High Court does not and will not vest the Court with the requisite jurisdiction. He listed many legal authorities such as Garba v. Mohammed (2016) LPELR-40612; N.N.P.C v. Ibrahim (2014) LPELR-23999(CA) per Abiru, JCA and submitted that the subject matter of the suit and the parties to the suit must fall within the provisions of section 251 of the 1999 Constitution or any other Act of the National Assembly conferring jurisdiction on the Federal High Court. He urged this Court to resolve the issue in favour of the 1st, 4th and 5th Respondents.

On the second issue, the learned Senior Counsel submitted that if issue No. 1 is resolved against the Appellant, the resolution of the third issue either in favour or against the Appellant will not confer any tangible benefit the Appellant because the finding of fact by the Court was not the basis of the decision of the lower Court. He explained that the decision of the lower Court centred on its finding that the Appellant participated in an illegal Congress on the documentary evidence before the lower Court and inferences from such documentary evidence. He submitted that the decision of the lower Court is supported by the affidavit evidence on the record. He referred to Exhibit H attached to the affidavit in support of the Amended Originating Summons filed by the Appellant. He said that in Exhibit H, it was shown that two sets of Congress took place in the Local Government Areas listed therein. He stated that the first Congress took place in the early hours of that day and was conducted by the Ward Executives or Electoral Officers appointed by the State Working Committee of the Party. The second one took place in the later part of the and was organised by the Electoral Officers deployed to those Local Government Areas by the National Headquarters of the Party. He said that by that Report, two factions or groups existed and it is only the Ward Congress conducted by the 5-man Electoral Committee appointed by the National Working Committee of the Party and other Electoral Officers deployed by the National Headquarters that is valid and subsisting since they are the only persons empowered by the Guidelines to conduct the Ward Congress. He said that the Appellant admitted that he participated in the first Congress that was conducted in the early hours of 7/3/2020 by the Wards Executives or Electoral Officers appointed by the State Chairman or the State Working Committee contrary to the Guidelines of the 1st Respondent. He urged this Court to resolve the issue against the Appellant and dismiss the appeal.

The 3rd Respondent through his learned Counsel, F. D. Falade, Esq., contended in respect of the lone issue formulated in his Brief, referred to the case of Okorocha v. UBA (2018) LPELR-45122 (SC) and stated that the 3rd Respondent can join issue with the Appellant on jurisdiction as it affects the 3rd Respondent. He said that the 3rd Respondent is not a member of any Political Party and the Appellant did not allege that he had committed any breach against him. He referred to the Supreme Court case of APC v. PDP (2015) EJSC Vol. 14 page 56 and submitted that the Appellant has not shown any interest that the 3rd Respondent has in the intra party affairs of the State Party. He contended that there was no real or substantial controversy between the 3rdRespondent or any party in the suit. He submitted that the cases of Chinwo v. Owhonda (2008) 3 NWLR Part 1074 page 341 and Amah v. Nwankwo (2007) 12 NWLR Part 1047 page 552 cited by the Appellant are irrelevant to this appeal as they do not avail the Appellant in joining the 3rd Respondent. He finally invoked the provisions of section 15 of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act, Cap. 407 LFN 1990 which prescribed the duty of the Police there under thus: “It shall be the duty of every Police Officer to assist in the execution of process of Court”. Process is defined under the Act as “a formal written authority addressed to the Sheriff for enforcement of a judgment in a manner provided by this Act or prescribed, and it includes writ of execution and warrant and order of arrest, commitment or imprisonment. He then argued that the joinder of the 3rd Respondent for the purpose of execution of anticipated judgment is unwarranted and brought in bad faith, and then urged the Court to dismiss the appeal.

This Court has equally studied the arguments contained in the Appellant’s respective Reply Brief to the 1st, 4th and 5th Respondents and 3rd Respondent’s Briefs of Argument.

In determining this appeal, this Court’s attention would focus mainly on the issues postulated by the Appellant. The first issue, that is to say, Whether from the facts and circumstances of this case the grievances of the Appellant is not justiciable and the preliminary objection is not devoid of facts to determine it, it will be prudent to decipher what the grievances of the Appellant and those he represents were. They can only be gleaned from the affidavit evidence in support of the Appellant’s claims in the Amended Originating Summons.

By the averments in the affidavit evidence in support of his Amended Originating Summons, the Appellant stated that he is a financial member of the 1st Defendant from Ward 11 of Ekiti Southwest Local Government Area of Ekiti State. The 1st Defendant issued a timetable for election into Party offices and State Ward Congresses for the 7th March, 2020 including that of 177 Wards in Ekiti State. He paid for and collected a Nomination Form from the 1st Defendant to contest as Ad-hoc Delegate in Unit 006, Ward 11, Ekiti South West Local Government Area slated for the 7th March, 2020. He participated in the Ward and Ad-hoc Delegate election of the 1st Defendant conducted on 7/3/2020. He contested for the position of Ad-hoc Delegate with his Nomination Form attached as Exhibit C to the affidavit. He averred that the National Working Committee of the 1st Defendant constituted a 5-Man Ward Congress Election Committee for the 177 Wards in Ekiti with the 4th Defendant appointed as its Chairman. He said he obtained his Nomination Form and submitted the same to the 1st Defendant before the deadline for submission, and the same way all the others he is representing in the suit did. He referred to the compiled list of all eligible aspirants who submitted their Nomination Forms for the various offices for election in accordance with the Guidelines issued by the 1st Defendant. He knew as a fact that no other list of eligible aspirants was compiled by the 1st Defendant or issued to the 4th Defendant for the purpose of the said election.

Then after stating that on the said 7/3/2020, the election into the Ward Congress in the 177 Wards in the Ekiti State was peaceably and fairly conducted in the presence of security operatives of the 3rd Defendant and supervision of the 2nd Defendant, he mentioned in the next paragraph that the 4th Defendant and other members of the Committee showed up late in the Ekiti State at about 4pm on 7/3/2020, the Election Day in spite of the fact that the election was scheduled to start at 8am. This clearly explained the fact that the 4th Respondent and his team appointed by the National Working Committee of the 1st Defendant now 1st Respondent, were not present when the said first Ward Congress election claimed to have been peaceably and fairly conducted in the presence of security operatives of the 3rd Respondent and supervision of the 2nd Respondent, took place. He further stated that the 4th Defendant was informed upon his arrival in Ekiti State that the Ward Congress had been held and the last step of inputting the results in Form ESR 01 was the only task remaining. At that point the 4th Defendant insisted that another election be conducted despite the absence of members and INEC Officials as statutorily required. The call for fresh election was immediately and unanimously refused by party leaders and members present. After the fresh election where the Appellant and those he represents were elected, the 4th Defendant decided to make himself unavailable at the Collation Center at 7pm appointed for Collation at Midas Hotel, Ado-Ekiti. He alleged that the 4th Defendant unilaterally inputted names of unknown persons in the Form ESR 01 instead of the names of the actual contestants and winners at the various Ward Congress of the 7th March, 2020 held in the 177 Wards in Ekiti State. They later received information that the 4th Defendant and his Committee were busy inputting different names in another Hotel in Ado-Ekiti.

They lodged a complaint with the Police as shown in Exhibit H1. The 4th Defendant later went ahead and submitted the unilaterally computed result of persons who did not obtain and submit Nomination Forms nor cleared for the respective offices as the emerged candidates at the election. He said that the Constitution and Guidelines of the 1st Defendant provided for only those that obtained Nomination Form to contest Ward Congress election and that his election and those he is represents were done in compliance with the Constitution and Guidelines of the 1st Defendant.

The 1st, 4th and 5th Defendants in their Counter-Affidavit, attached Exhibit PDP1 (i-viii) indicating that the persons whose names appeared as Plaintiffs and who the Appellant seem to be representing denied knowledge of the suit and involvement and/or participated in the said Congress conducted by the 1st Defendant in Ekiti State on 7/3/2020. They swore to affidavits contradicting the assertions of the Appellant. At paragraph 3(t) of the counter-affidavit, it was alleged that the Nomination Forms of those whose names appeared in Exhibit A annexed to the Plaintiff’s Amended Originating Summons (List of Ward Executive) Ekiti State People’s Democratic Party Stamp was not at any time submitted to the 1st Defendant. It was categorically stated that the list of the aspirants in Exhibit PDP7 that purchased, filled and submitted their respective Nomination Forms to the 1st Defendant as and when due were the only persons who participated and won during the 1st Defendant’s Ward Executive Office Congresses and 3 Ad-hoc Delegates Election conducted through the 4th Defendant led Committee in the Ekiti State Chapter of the 1st Defendant on 7/3/2020. It was further averted that the unauthorised list compiled by unknown person on behalf of the 1st Defendant and attached as Exhibit A to the Plaintiff’s Amended Originating Summons is alien and unknown to the 1st, 4th and 5th Defendants. This Court also directed its attention to the averments in paragraphs 3 sub-paragraphs (w-z), (aa), (dd-ff), (hh-tt), (ww), (xx), (fff), (ggg, (jjj), (lll-ppp), (ttt-xxx), 9(i-iii) and 10(i) in which it stated that the fulcrum of the suit is about the leadership and internal affairs of the 1st Defendant and that the Plaintiff did not point out any infraction committed by the 1st, 4th and 5th or any other Defendants in his affidavit.

This Court also examined the facts contained in the Further Affidavit deposed to by one Barr. Gboyega Oguntuase, a Legal Practitioner and the immediate past State Chairman of the 1st Defendant up till the 10th May, 2020. He is also a member of the National Executive Committee of the 1st Defendant. See also paragraphs 12-26 of the Further Affidavit. He further explained that after participating in the Congress organised by the 4th Defendant, the 4th Defendant acknowledged the election (sic) as the elected officers but refused to collate their names as contained in Exhibit A attached to the Amended Originating Summons. He laid accusation at paragraph 28 of the Further Affidavit against the 4th Defendant saying that he left Ekiti State without collating the results of the Ward Executive Officers and 3 Ad-hoc Delegates who were duly elected in line with the Constitution and Guidelines of the 1st Defendant. This aspect, I must observe, runs contrary to and contradicted the averments of the Appellant himself that collation was made by the 4th Respondent but in a different hotel. He further said that the list of candidates submitted by the 4th Defendant did not participate in the Ward Executive Officers and 3 Ad-hoc Delegates Congress of 7/3/2020. The List of the people in Exhibit PDP D2 did not participate in the Congress held on 7/3/2020 and that the failure of the 1st and 4th Defendants to collate the names of the Plaintiff and the people in Exhibit A is against the Constitution and Guidelines of the 1st Defendant.

Having ascertained the background facts of this case, the next salient question is:

“Whether the issues raised or the complaints of the Appellant and the people he is represents or the dispute between them and the Respondents in the appeal are determinable by the Courts given the provisions of section 6(6)(b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended and, the interpretation of the same as handed down by the Supreme Court”.

The main grouse of the Appellant under issue 1 is the lower Court’s remark that the reliefs sought by the Appellant are not justiciable. The Appellant had argued that by virtue of section 6(6)(b) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended, the lower Court had jurisdiction to entertain and determine the dispute between the parties since by the provisions aforesaid, prescribed that any citizen of Nigeria has the right to approach any Court for the determination of any dispute or question affecting his civil rights and obligations. And that the Courts’ powers to determine such disputes extend to all matters between persons, or between government or authority, and to any person in Nigeria, and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto. He contended that there is no exception or limit to the nature of the disputes or matters that can be adjudicated upon by the Courts.

However, bearing in mind the doctrine of stare decisis, I would at this juncture have recourse to the decision of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in Nigercare Development Co. Ltd v. Adamawa State Water Board (2008) 9 NWLR Part 1093 page 498, where, in its dissection of the nature of disputes determinable by Courts under the said section of the Constitution as amended, opined that “Courts of law can only invoke their judicial powers under Section 6 of the Constitution (relevantly the 1979 Constitution) where a matter is justiciable, Courts of law have no competence to invoke their judicial power if a matter is not justiciable. Where a statute provides for a condition precedent to the filing of an action in a Court of law and has no jurisdiction to invoke its Section 6 judicial powers."

What this means in essence is that notwithstanding how grave and offensive the actions of another may be, the primary consideration will be “Is it justiciable”, that is, capable of being determined by a Court of law because not all cases brought before Courts are accepted for their review. If a case is non justiciable then the Court cannot hear it. As has been demonstrated in several authorities and Wikipedia in particular, for an issue or a dispute to be justiciable, the parties in the action must not be seeking an advisory opinion; secondly, there must be actual controversy between the parties, meaning that the parties cannot agree to a lawsuit where all the parties seek the same particular judgment from the Court(known as collusive or friendly suit); rather, the parties must each be seeking a different outcome; thirdly, the question must be neither unripe nor moot; and fourthly, the suit must not be seeking judgment upon a political question.

Also, the Supreme Court in Ufomba v. INEC (2017) 13 NWLR Part 1582 page 175 recapitulated the definition of the word “justiciable” as ascribed in the Black’s Law Dictionary at page 944 thus: “A case or dispute properly brought before a Court of justice: capable of being disposed of judicially.” So, for a Court to have powers to entertain any dispute or matter, that matter must be capable of being determined by a Court of law. According to Wikipedia, “justiciability concerns the limits upon legal issues over which a Court can exercise its judicial authority. Essentially, it seeks to address whether a Court possesses the ability to provide adequate resolution of the dispute; where a Court believes that it cannot offer such a final determination, the matter is not justiciable.” Further, in Uwazuruonye v. Gov. of Imo State (2013) 8 NWLR Part 1355 page 28, Rhodes-Vivour, JSC, stated that A justiciable matter is one in which the plaintiff has a cause of action. Courts only consider justiciable issues or controversy and do not bother spending precious judicial time with hypothetical disputes or one that is academic or moot. See Oyeneye v. Odugbesan 1972 4 SC P.244 Okulate v. Awosanya 2000 2 NWLR pt.646 p.530; Bakare v. A.C.B. Ltd.1986 3 NWLR pt. 26 p.47, Bamgboye v. Unilorin 1999 10 NWLR pt.622 p.290.”

As copiously showcased in the affidavit evidence of the Appellant, this is a dispute between some members of the People’s Democratic Party, that is, 1st Respondent, and the Party itself over who emerged as winners of the Ward Congress election conducted on 7/3/2020 or occupy the Executive seats in the Ekiti State Chapter of the Party. To put it in a nutshell, it is a leadership tussle in the Ekiti State Chapter of the People’s Democratic Party. There was no clear specification of the provisions of the Constitution and Guidelines of the 1st Respondent that were breached by the 1st 4th and 5th Respondents in the facts averred in the supporting affidavit. The hub of the Appellant’s complaint is that the 4th Respondent refused to collate his name and the names of the people he represents in Form ESR 01 as the winners of the Ward Congress election conducted in Ekiti State Chapter of the 1st Respondent on 7/3/2020. To properly appreciate the intricacies of the case, I must make reference to the case of Dahiru v. APC, where the Supreme Court, per Rhodes-Vivour, JSC., painted a glowing picture of what an intra-party dispute is. His Lordship described an intra-party dispute as a dispute between members of the party interse or between a member or members on the one hand or and the party on the other hand.” His Lordship went further in Agi, SAN v. People’s Democratic Party and characterized a Political Party as

“a Club, a voluntary association. It has its rules, regulations, guidelines and Constitution.

Members join the party on their own free will. By joining they have freely given their consent to be bound by the rules, regulations, guidelines and Constitution of the party. These rules of the party must be obeyed by all members of the Party, as the party's decision is final over its own affairs. Members of a Party would do well to understand and appreciate the finality of a party's decision over its domestic or internal affairs. The Court would only interfere where the party has violated its own rules.

Where the National Working Committee of the 1st respondent regards a person as a member of the party eligible to contest the primaries, no member of the party can complain against such a decision. Both Courts below were correct that the 3rd respondent is a member of the 1st respondent. Such an issue is within the domestic and internal affairs of the 1st respondent over which the Courts have no jurisdiction and as such is not justiciable."

The Supreme Court had earlier on, in Emenike v. PDP (2012) 12 NWLR Part 1315 page 556, per Chukwuma-Eneh, JSC., when deciding whether the issue of a political party choosing its candidates for elective offices is justiciable held that-

"It is settled that notwithstanding the Electoral Act 2010 as amended) the issue of a political party choosing its candidates for elective offices is non-justiciable being a domestic (i.e. internal) affair of the party. It is a political question. In other words, a member who is aggrieved has no cause of action as it has not raised any question as to the rights and obligations of the member determinable by a court of law. See Onuoha v. Okafor (supra) and Thomas v. Olufosoye (1986) 1 NWLR (pt.18) 669 per Obaseki JSC. Again this point has also been expounded as settled law by Nnamani JSC (of blessed memory) in the case of Abraham Adesanya v. The President Federal Republic of Nigeria (1981) 5 SC. 112 at 187-188 thus: "Section 6(6) (b) to my mind encompasses the full extent of judicial power vested in the Courts by the constitution. Under it the courts have power to adjudicate on a justiciable issue touching on rights and obligations of the person who brings the complaint to Court... It seems to me that the Courts must operate within the perimeter of the judicial powers vested in them by section 6(6)(b) of the Constitution and that they can only take cognizance of justiciable actions properly brought before them in which there is dispute, controversy and above all, in which the parties have sufficient interest.”

I cannot round off this intriguing point on whether issues on the internal affairs of a political party are within the exclusive province of the party without making reference to the decision of this Court in Umeh v. Ejike (2013) LPELR-23506(CA), per Galinje, JCA (as he then was)wherein he said:

"On whether the Courts can exercise jurisdiction on internal affairs of a political party, the law is still extant that political questions as to how a political party should be run or who should be its candidate at an election is strictly a matter within the exclusive jurisdiction of the political parties. The Courts have no jurisdiction to interfere in that regard. See Ehinlawo v. Oke (2008) 16 NWLR (Pt. 1113) 357 at 402. In Abdulkadir v. Mamman (2003) 15 NWLR (Pt. 839) 1 at 33, this Court per Muhammed JCA, had this to say:- "It is trite law that an intra-party governance is entirely within the province of the party. It is not the role of the Court to make appointments of persons to hold party offices. The question of the candidate a political party will sponsor is more in the nature of a political question which the Courts are not qualified to deliberate upon and answer. See Onuoha v. Okafor and Others (1983) 2 SCNLR 244, (1989) 14 NWLR (Pt. 183) 30, Bakam v. Abubakar (1991) 6 NWLR (Pt. 199) 564. In the instant case, the subject matter of the complaints and claims of the Respondents are related to the internal affairs of APGA, a political party. In the circumstance, the trial Court had no jurisdiction to determine the case. Since the lower Court was drained of jurisdiction over the matter, the best thing to do in the circumstance was to strike out the case. Article 21(1)(c) of APGA Constitution provides as follows:- "No member of the party shall take the party to any Court of Justice in the land, no matter the circumstances and under any condition. The relevant authorities and agencies within the party shall resolve all matters affecting the members of the party. A member who takes the party to Court shall lose his/her membership, the date of which shall be determined by the General Convention." The provision is made to strengthen the internal dispute resolution mechanism within the party and to emphasize the non justiceable nature of internal dispute within the party." 

I think this issue has been extensively dissected and analysed and may be heading towards being over-flogged. However, it somewhat became absolutely necessary so as to put paid to the incongruous argument of the Appellant that an intra party dispute such as this touching on the intra party governance of a party and who will occupy its internal executive offices is a justiciable dispute cognizable under section 6(6)(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. How could the 1st, 4th and 5th Respondents have acted in flagrant disobedience of the 1st Respondent’s Constitution and Guidelines for the conduct of the Ward Congress Election in Ekiti State held on 7/3/2020 when in actual fact the Appellant and those he represents decided to participate in an earlier election not conducted by the 5-man Ward Congress Election Committee constituted by the National Working Committee of the 1st Respondent for the 177 Wards in Ekiti State with the 4th Respondent as its Chairman, and from which Exhibit A initially emanated. As I observed earlier, the allegation that the 1st, 4th and 5th Respondents failed to abide by the provisions of the 1st Respondent’s Constitution and Guidelines in the conduct of the Ward Congress election especially in the results returned is unsupportable in the absence of the very provisions alleged to have been flouted and in the face of the insistence on the part of the 4th Respondent that it was the names of the winners of the particular election conducted by the Committee set up by the National Working Committee of the 1st Respondent that he collated.

The 1st, 4th and 5th Respondents said that Exhibit A is an unauthorised list compiled by unknown person on behalf of the 1st Defendant.

They said the document is alien and unknown to them. Since the issue of who occupies the executive seats of a political party has been variously dubbed by our apex Court as a political question that should not find itself within the confines of the Courts for adjudication and determination, it would take the same apex Court to overturn its well guarded decision and established case law when the need rises and not for the Appellant to suggest otherwise to this Court. The apex Court clearly interpreted section 6(6)(b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended as it relates to the justiciability of any dispute between any persons or person and government or authority and to any person in Nigeria and to all actions and proceedings relating thereto, this Court is bound by the doctrine of stare decisis to apply them. The Appellant and those he represents manifested a total lack of patience on their part and complete disregard to the 1st Respondent’s Guidelines that the election be conducted by the 5-man Ward Congress Election Committee under the Chairmanship of the 4th Respondent constituted by it. I must observe that since the questions involved in the instant appeal are touching on the leadership of the Ekiti State Chapter of the 1st Respondent and election into its Executive Offices, which had been variously adjudged and described by the Supreme Court as political questions incapable of being entertained and determined by the Courts, this Court, therefore, finds no reason to upturn the impeccably written judgment of the lower Court.

It is therefore right that the suit is not justiciable and as such it lacked jurisdiction to entertain and determine the same. Accordingly, issue No. 1 is hereby resolved against the Appellant.

As regards issue No. 2, I must state outright that it is untenable in the face of the total collapse of the first issue against the Appellant notwithstanding the joinder of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents to the suit. The nature of the reliefs sought completely jettisoned the suit out of the jurisdictional competence of the lower Court as they were founded upon an internal dispute of a political party.

So long as the lower Court does not possess the jurisdiction to entertain and determine the substratum of the case, the joinder of the 2nd and 3rd Respondents can never clothe the lower Court with the jurisdiction it does not possess in the first place. May I at this juncture refer to the decision of this Court in the case of Hon. Justice Isa Ayo Salami v. National Judicial Council (2014) LPELR-22774(CA), per Orji-Abadua, JCA, in which it was observed thus:

Jurisdiction is the combination of parties and subject matter, the two must co-exist before any Court can exercise the jurisdiction to hear and determine the suit instituted before it. It has been repeatedly stated that jurisdiction is the live wire of any Court, because it goes to the authority of the Court or its competency to deal with the matter or hear and determine the matter before it. It is trite that where a Court does not have the jurisdiction to hear a matter, the entire proceeding no matter how well conducted and decided would amount to a nullity. It is therefore mandatory that Courts decide the issue of jurisdiction before proceeding to consider any other matter. Once a Court lacks jurisdiction, a party cannot use any statutory provision or common law principle to impose it because absence of jurisdiction is irreparable in law. The matter ends there, while the only procedural duty of the Court in the circumstance is to strike it out. The only valid step to take by a litigant is to file an action in a Court of competent jurisdiction, per , J.S.C. in Obiuweubi v. C.B.N. (supra) while relying on Umanah v. Attah (2006) 17 NWLR Part 1009 page 503, KLM Airlines v. Kumzlu (2004) 8 NWLR Part 875 Page 231. It is crystal clear that for any Court to have the authority to make any orders or take further steps in any suit commenced before it, it must first and foremost determine whether it has jurisdiction to entertain such suit the moment its decision to hear and determine the suit is challenged or questioned by the defendant or the opposing party, and, it is the Plaintiff's claim, i.e., the reliefs before it that it would examine. The claim endorsed on the Writ or stated in the Statement of Claim are the documents to be scrutinized and considered not the facts averred therein. The Supreme Court in Ajomale v. Yaduat (1) (1991) 5 NWLR Part 191 page 257; held that jurisdiction is not to be equated with powers. Jurisdiction is the right in the Court to hear and determine the dispute between the parties, the power in the Court is the authority to make certain orders and decisions with respect to the matters before the Court. The provisions of Section 6 of the Constitution prescribed the powers of the Courts whereas the jurisdiction of the Courts are prescribed by Sections 251, 272 and 254C of the 1999 Constitution. Where a Court has no jurisdiction with respect to a matter before it, the judicial basis for the exercise of any power with respect to such matter is also absent. This is because power can only be exercised where the Court has the jurisdiction to do so. See Bronik Motors Ltd v. Wema Bank (1983) 6 S.C. 158 or (1985) 5 NCLR and Ajomale v. Yaduat (supra) per Karibi-Whyte, J.S.C."

In Azagba v. Nigerian College of Aviation Technology Zaria (2013) LPELR-20740, it was held that section 251 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria has distinctly enumerated the items which fall within the jurisdictional competence of the Federal High Court to determine, therefore, it is not every case a Federal Agency is involved in, that the Federal High Court has jurisdiction to entertain. The subject matter of the plaintiff’s claim as well as the reliefs being sought must be within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to adjudicate upon by virtue of the provisions of Section 251 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. See also the Supreme Court decision in Ocholi Enojo James, SAN v. INEC (2015) 12 NWLR Part 1474 page 538, per Kekere-Ekun, JSC, wherein it was held thus:

"...The section provides thus: 251(1) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in this Constitution and in addition to such other jurisdiction as may be conferred upon it by an Act of the National Assembly, the Federal High Court shall have and exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other court in civil causes and matters - (q) subject to the provision of this Constitution, the operation and interpretation of this Constitution in so far as it affects the Federal Government or any of its agencies; (r) any action or proceeding for a declaration or injunction affecting the validity of any executive or administrative action or decision by the Federal Government or any of its agencies." It is not in doubt that the 1st respondent, the Independent National Electoral Commission, is an agency of the Federal Government. However, as rightly submitted by learned counsel for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents, the section does not confer a blanket jurisdiction on the Federal High Court in respect of matters in which an agency of the Federal Government is a party. This court in Ohakim v. Agbaso (2010) 19 NWLR (Pt. 1226) 172 @ 236 - 237 G - D per Mohammed, JSC (now CJN) put the matter succinctly when it stated thus: "...The fact that the action was against the respondents who are no doubt agents of the Federal Government of Nigeria does not ipso facto bring the case within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, unless and until the other requirements of the law touching on the subject matter of the claims, is also satisfied. In other words, the subject matter of the action must also fall squarely within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court before the court can assume jurisdiction in a case against the Federal Government or any of its agencies." His Lordship restated the principles on the issue, as laid down in: Madukolu v. Nkemdilim (1962) 1 All NLR 587 @ 595 and reiterated that one of the conditions to be satisfied is that the subject matter of the case must be within the jurisdiction of the court. See also: Adetayo v. Ademola (2010) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1215) 169 @ 190 F - G. I have no doubt in my mind that in the instant case, notwithstanding the ingenious manner in which the questions for determination and reliefs sought in the amended originating summons are couched, the purpose of the entire suit is to nullify the return of the 3rd respondent as Governor of Kogi State and to declare the appellant the lawful winner of the election that took place on 3rd December 2011."

The subject matter of the plaintiffs claim as well as the reliefs being sought for are outside the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to adjudicate upon by virtue of the provisions of Section 251 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as non-justiciable disputes or claims are not determinable by Courts of law including the Federal High Court irrespective of the joinder of the 2ndand 3rdRespondents to the suit. I totally agree with the submissions of the 1st4th and 5th Respondents’ Learned Senior Counsel. It is not in doubt that the 2nd Respondent, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is a Federal Government Agency but that alone cannot confer jurisdictional competence on the Federal High Court when it lacked the subject matter jurisdiction, that is, the authority to hear cases of a particular type or cases relating to a specific subject matter. Unlike personal or territorial jurisdiction, lack of subject-matter jurisdiction cannot be waived. A judgment from a Court that did not have subject-matter jurisdiction is forever a nullity. To decide a case, a Court must have a combination of subject (subjectam) and either personal (personam) or territorial (locum) jurisdiction.

Subject-matter jurisdiction, personal or territorial jurisdiction, and adequate notice are the three most fundamental constitutional requirements for a valid judgment. It is trite that the jurisdiction of the Court will be determined by the subject matter of the claim. In Adeyemi & Ors. v. Opeyori (1976) 1 F.N.L.L. 149, the Supreme Court stated that it is fundamental that it is the claim of the Plaintiff that determines the jurisdiction of the Court which entertains the claim.

In the instant appeal the subject matter of the plaintiff’s claim as well as the reliefs being sought are outside the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to adjudicate upon by virtue of the provisions of Section 251 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 notwithstanding the fact that the 2nd and 3rd Respondents are Federal Agencies, as the issues are intra party disputes between some members of the Peoples Democratic Party and the Party itself over who were actually elected to occupy the executive seats or offices of the Party in its Ekiti State Chapter. They are non-justiciable issues which deprived the lower of the subject-matter jurisdiction to determine the same.

I would mention in passing, and as rightly argued by the 3rd Respondent’s Counsel in the light of the Supreme Court decision in APC v. PDP (2015) All FWLR Part 791 page 1493, that the 3rd Respondent herein is an unnecessary party and ought not to have been joined to the suit at all. Although in law, mis-joinder of a party or parties cannot void the process or proceeding in question. The only order the Court could make will be that of striking out the name wrongly joined to the suit. However, in the instant appeal, the lower Court lacked the subject matter jurisdiction to determine the case so the need to make a consequential order does not arise. In consequence thereof, this issue is hereby resolved against the Appellant.

Issue 3 is equally resolved against the Appellant. It is distinct in the facts averred by the Appellant that an earlier election had been conducted before the arrival of the 4th Respondent and members of his Committee. The 4th Respondent was specially appointed by the 1st Respondent to chairman the 5-man Ward Congress Election Committee for the 177 Wards in Ekiti State constituted by the 1st Respondent to conduct the said election on its behalf. The Appellant stated the obvious when he averred that the 4th Defendant and other members of the Committee showed up late in the Ekiti State at about 4pm on 7/3/2020, the Election Day in spite of the fact that the election was scheduled to start at 8am and that the 4th Defendant was informed upon his arrival in Ekiti State that the Ward Congress had been held and the last step of inputting the results in Form ESR 01 was the only task remaining. At that point the 4th Defendant insisted that another election be conducted despite the absence of members and INEC Officials as statutorily required. The call for fresh election was immediately and unanimously refused by party leaders and members present. He alleged that after the fresh election where the Appellant and those he represents were elected, the 4th Defendant decided to make himself unavailable at the Collation Center at 7pm appointed for Collation at Midas Hotel, Ado-Ekiti. He further alleged that the 4th Defendant unilaterally imputed names of unknown persons in the Form ESR 01instead of the names of the actual contestants and winners at the various Ward Congress of the 7th March, 2020 held in 177 Wards in Ekiti State. They later received information that the 4th Defendant and his Committee were busy inputting different names in another Hotel in Ado-Ekiti.

The fact remains that the 1st Respondent appointed the 4th Defendant and other persons as a 5-Man Ward Congress Election Committee for the 177 Wards in Ekiti State Chapter of the Party with the 4th Defendant as its Chairman. They were to conduct the Ekiti State Ward Executive Officers’ Congress and 3 Ad-hoc Delegates election. This was evidenced by Exhibits PDP 4 and PDP 5(i-xxxii), the 4th Respondent’s Letter of Appointment and the acknowledged copies of the letters of appointments of the 2-Man Electoral Officers appointed for each of the 16 Local Government Areas (177) Wards of Ekiti State under the Chairmanship of the 4th Respondent. The question is, who conducted the first election contrary to the Guidelines and directives of the 1st Respondent that the election shall be conducted by the Committee it established for that purpose. Paragraph 3(mm) of the 1st, 4th and 5th Respondents’ Counter-Affidavit showed that the Ward Executive Officer’s Congresses and 3 Ad-hoc Delegates election purportedly conducted before the electoral materials were given was conducted by self-appointed persons by the Ekiti State Chapter of PDP and was not conducted using the electoral materials of the 1st Defendant. See sub-paragraphs(oo), (pp and rr). As I posited in the opening paragraph, the Appellant admitted participating in a Congress election conducted earlier by persons who were never appointed by the 1st Respondent to conduct such election and which initially generated Exhibit A. Even though the Appellant had laboured strenuously to establish that the fresh election conducted by the 4th Respondent also produced the same list of names as contained in the earlier list, that is, Exhibit A, I must say that the facts were not quite straightened out. There are some dark areas surrounding the said Exhibit A each time he tried to link it to the second election conducted by the Committee specifically constituted for that purpose. The judgment of the lower Court was so brilliantly laid out that I have no reason whatsoever to disrupt the impeccable findings of the lower Court. Accordingly, I find no merit in this appeal and the same is hereby dismissed by me.

FATIMA OMORO AKINBAMI JCA: I agree

PAUL OBI ELECHI JCA: I agree