A federal court in Abuja has suspended new procedures on the lawsuit filed against the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the Imo Governor of the State, Chief Rochas Okorocha.
The court suspended the proceedings of the case pending the outcome of an appeal presented by the senatorial candidate of the Great Alliance for all progressives, APGA, in the elections, head Osita Izunaso.
Judge Okon Abang, who suspended further proceedings in the present case on Thursday, said he received a sworn statement on May 20, in which Izunaso, who is the third defendant in the case, did not notify the court pending your appeal.
We recall that Izunaso had appeared before the appellate court to challenge the superior court’s decision to take jurisdiction over the case that Okorocha had presented.
Izunaso, in his six grounds of appeal, argued that the Supreme Court was wrong in exercising jurisdiction to join the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Izunaso argued that the court should first determine whether or not he was competent to consider Okorocha’s case before proceeding to join other interested parties in the case.
Izunaso also argued that the Abang judge committed an error of law and misapplied the principles of the decision Inakoju V Adeleke (2007) LPELR-1510 (SC) and Order 29 (1) (a) of the Civil Procedure Regulation Federal Court of 2009, which refers to a situation in which a court deals with the question of determining a dispute to its own jurisdiction and the hearing of the underlying request.
Izunaso argued that the trial court did not have the jurisdiction to continue with the hearing and the determination of any matter relating to the case, including the request made by the PDP, without hearing the requests that cast doubt on its jurisdiction.
As a result, he urged the court of appeal to hold that allowing the PDP to proceed with its court request was against the weight of the evidence.
As a result, the applicant asked the Court of Appeal to allow the appeal and annulled the judgment of the Court of First Instance on May 8, 2019. Prior to his appeal, Senator Izunaso had filed a request with the Judicial Council National Council (NJC), the president of the provisional Court of Nigeria. (CJN) and the Chief Justice of the Federal Superior Court on what he described as an act of misconduct by the court of first instance.
Meanwhile, before the new procedures, Okorocha be suspended through his lawyer, Mr. Kehinde Ogunwumiju, SAN, claimed a deliberate attempt to counter Izunaso and others appropriate.
Though he urged the court to ignore Izunaso’s appeal and proceed with hearing of the substantive suit, Justice Abang, held that he was minded to respect the judicial hierarchy. Justice Abang who initially threatened to commit Izunaso to prison for what he termed as his unruly behaviour, said he would adjourn the matter to May 30 for mention.
It will be recalled that the first Judge that was assigned the case, Justice Taiwo O. Taiwo, disqualified himself from the matter following a petition that was lodged against him by candidates of the PDP and APGA who accused him of bias.
Okorocha who vied for Senate on the banner of the All Progressives Congress, APC, had in his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/296/2019, maintained that INEC lacked the statutory powers to withhold his Certificate of Return, saying he was validly elected to occupy the senatorial seat.
He is praying the court to declare that the electoral body acted in error when it refused to recognise him, even after the returning officer had declared him winner.
The Plaintiff’s bid to secure interim order against INEC suffered a setback due to multiple applications by candidates that participated in the election. Those the court earlier joined in the suit were Mr. Nwachukwu Clement of KOWA party, Precious Nwadike of United Progressive Party, UPP, Dr. Uche Ibeh of Labour Party, and APGA.
They all notified the court of their intentions to file preliminary objections to challenge the competence of suit. The Defendants said they were opposed to the issuance of Certificate of Return to the plaintiff.
INEC had declined to issue Certificate of Return to Okorocha who was the senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, after the returning officer alleged that he was forced to declare him winner under duress.
Atiku demands N500m from Onochie for defamation(Opens in a new browser tab) The Returning Officer for the election, Prof Francis Ibeawuchi, declared Okorocha as the winner of the poll, having polled 97,762 votes ahead of his closest rival, Mr Jones Onyereri of the Peoples Democratic Party, who had 68,117 votes.
Ibeawuchi claimed that he announced Okorocha as the winner to save his life and that of his household, insisting however that the election ought to have been declared inconclusive. Okorocha had prayed the court to order INEC to in the interim, issue him Certificate of Return, pending the determination of the suit.