ACTION – LOCUS STANDI – Whether a member of a voluntary organization can sue the organization regarding whether its decisions or actions on its internal affairs are ultra vires

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“The claim by the appellant that the 1st respondent violated its own constitution cannot vest him with the locus standi to institute an action in respect of the claim. He has no right of action against his political party concerning its decisions or actions on its internal affairs. This is because the Political Party is a voluntary organization or association. As a member of the party, he has no right of action against his political party for breach of its constitution concerning the internal affairs of the party. He has no personal right to be a member of the executive or committee or caretaker committee of the Rivers State Chapter of the 1st respondent. The right to determine who should lead or manage the said River State Chapter of the 1st respondent as a member of the State Executive Committee belongs to the 1st respondent which right it exercises through a majority of its members through its congresses organized by the NWC or directly by the NWC in the case of appointment of a caretaker committee. The appellant has not alleged that his contractual right or any of his personal right has been breached by the action of the 1st respondent or that the action or decision of the 1st respondent involve some imputation of a crime against him. See Abubakari & Ors. v. Smith & Ors. (1973) 6 SC 31 and Ufomba v. INEC & Ors. (2017) LPELR – 42079 (SC), (2017) 13 NWLR (Pt.1582) 175. The doctrine of ultra vires has no application in the internal affairs of a voluntary association. So the decision of the National Working Committee of the 1st respondent appointing its River State Caretaker Executive Committee cannot be challenged in Court as being contrary to the appellant’s constitution. As held by Lord Denning in Institution of Mechanical Engineers v. Cane (1961) A.C. 696 at 724 the doctrine of ultra vires has no application in the internal affairs of a voluntary association of individuals. This decision was followed by the Supreme Court in Onuoha v. Okafor (supra) and PDP v. Sylva (supra) and by the Court of Appeal in Abdulkadir & Anor v. Mamman & Ors. (supra), Chinwo v. Owhonda (supra) and in Okoroafor & Ors v. Emeka (CA/E/10/2015) of 14-4-2015). It is emphasized in all these decisions that a member of a voluntary organization cannot sue for breach of the internal constitution and regulations of the organization in the internal affairs of the organization.” Per EMMANUEL AKOMAYE AGIM, JSC in AGUMA v. APC & ORS (2021-LCER-40458-SC) (Pp 65 – 67 Paras C – C)

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