The National Legal Adviser to the Labour Party, Kehinde Edun, has assured stakeholders and teeming supporters of the party that they are not losing sleep over the nullification of the lawmaker representing Ojo Federal Constituency in Lagos State at the House of Representatives, Seyi Sowunmi.
Edun, who disclosed the party’s position on Friday, said they have officially appealed the judgment.
Sowunmi was sacked on Thursday by the National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal sitting in Lagos.
In the judgment ruled by a three-man panel led by Justice Abdullahi Ozegya, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Lanre Ogunyemi, was declared as the duly elected candidate of the election that was conducted on February 25.
The other members of the panel included Justice Ashu Ewah and Justice Muhammad Sambo.
The development is coming after Ogunyemi, a two-term state lawmaker and former secretary of the APC in Lagos, challenged the declaration of Sowunmi by the Independent National Electoral Commission as the winner of the election on the grounds that he was not duly sponsored and qualified to contest the poll for Ojo Federal Constituency on the platform of Labour Party.
In its judgment on the petition, the tribunal also agreed with the petitioner that the LP candidate was not qualified to contest the elections.
The panel, therefore, declared his votes wasted and held that Ogunyemi, who was the second runner-up, ought to have been declared winner.
However, the national legal adviser of the LP said that the nullification does not connote that Sowunmi should immediately vacate the office.
He said, “When someone wins an election in the law of Nigeria, he remains in office till the final determination of the matter at the Supreme Court. The tribunal has given a decision and we have appealed.
“The matter is before the Court of Appeal and whoever loses at this point still has the option of going to Supreme Court. Sowunmi is still a member of the House of Reps, not sacked.”
The legal practitioner also used the opportunity to chide the Lamidi Apapa-led faction of the party for attempting to mislead on Thursday’s judgment of the Appeal Court sitting in Abuja.
While stating that no court in the country gave Apapa the mandate to act on behalf of the national chairman, Edun stressed that the restraining order on Julius Abure’s faction referred to was an interim injunction.
“First of all, Lamidi Apapa was never the deputy national chairman of Labour Party. Even in the absence of the national chairman, Apapa has no authority to act. The LP constitution provides for three deputy chairmen. He was only one of these chairmen. And by the constitution of the party, it is only the National Working Constitution that can fill vacancies when it occurs.
“As to the restraining order on Abure, it was only an interim order.
“An interim order is supposed to last for a maximum of 14 days. Now, this order has been appealed before the Court of Appeal in Abuja.”
He continued,“It is therefore the height of judicial rascality and insubordination for anyone to say anything that will prejudge the matter before the Court of Appeal. No court has pronounced Apapa as acting national chairman, neither as any organ of the party. Apapa is only illegally and unlawfully parading himself as acting national chairman.
“LP is not a jungle but a democratic platform by the rule of law. That’s why I said earlier that the matter of the restraining order is only an interim one that is the subject of appeal. Apapa is just misleading the public.”