By Wandoo Sombo
Abuja, Aug. 4, 2022 The Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed Aug. 30 to hear the suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate in Benue, seeking the disqualification of the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The PDP and its governorship candidate, Mr. Titus Uba, are challenging the APC primary election that produced Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia as its governorship candidate.
The plaintiffs are specifically asking the court to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from accepting and publishing the names of the governorship and senatorial candidates of the APC as persons sponsored by the party for the 2023 general election in the state.
Listed as defendants in the suits are INEC, APC, Alia, Terlumun Ikya, Benard Yisa, Mathias Byuan, Godwin Tyoachimin, Michael Aondokaa, SAN, and Sen. Barnabas Gemade.
Others are Rep. Herman Hembe, Anyom Mlanga, Terwase Orbunde, Stephen Lawani, Sam Ode and Prof. Terhemba Shija.
When the matter was called on Thursday before Justice Ahmed Mohammed, who is sitting as a vacation judge, counsel to Hembe, Mr T.O Penda attempted to move an application for extension of time.
Mr Sunday Ameh, SAN, counsel to Alia, however, argued that the matter was coming up for the first time and so it was for mention.
According to him, bringing an application will mean the matter is being heard meanwhile it is for mention.
“So I think the proper procedure is for counsel, beginning with plaintiff’s counsel to identify the processes filed so far.”
Counsel to the PDP, Mr Sebastian Hon, (SAN) said he was in agreement with the submission of Ameh.
“In view of the general perception of the law that a matter for mention is simply for mention to avoid unnecessary appeals and technical victories on appeal.
“I will apply that as the court adjourns because some of the defendants are absent, on the next adjourned date the applications for regularisation should be taken along with the substantive matter.”
Counsel said they were not opposed to the application, however, Ameh said that from experience, such applications were often not feasible.
He, however, said that on the next adjourned date, if the environment was conducive to taking the applications and the substantive matter, he would be ready to proceed.
In a ruling, the Justice Mohammed said the court appreciated the fact that time was of the essence since it was a pre-election matter.
The judge said that, on the next adjourned date, if the circumstances permitted, the court would proceed with hearing the substantive matter after taking all applications.
He adjourned the matter until Aug. 30 and ordered that hearing notices be served on all the defendants who were absent in court.