Court adjourns hearing on Bauchi Gov polls suit

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The Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday adjourned till Thursday the hearing of the main suit which gave rise to the interlocutory order of the court stopping the Independent National Electoral Commission from continuing with the collation of the March 9, 2018 governorship election Bauchi State.

Justice Inyang Ekwo had after issuing the order on Tuesday, adjourned hearing of the substantive suit till Wednesday.

But the hearing could not go on as scheduled on Wednesday as the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Mr. Ahmed Raji (SAN), told the judge that he needed time to respond to INEC’s notice of preliminary objection, counter-affidavit and written address served on him shortly before the court started sitting.

INEC’s lawyer, Mr. Abdulazeez Sani, did not oppose the application for adjournment.

The commission is the sole defendant in the suit.

The judge directed that he would hear the main suit together with INEC’s notice of preliminary objection challenging the court’s jurisdiction by 2pm on Wednesday.

The plaintiffs in the suit who obtained the Tuesday’s order stopping the collation of the results of the governorship election in Bauchi State are the All Progressives Congress and its candidate in the governorship election in the state, Governor Mohammed Abubakar.

APC and its candidate are behind the Peoples Democratic Party’s Bala Mohammed in the results so far collated by INEC.

Earlier, PDP had expressed its dissatisfaction about the Tuesday’s interlocutory order.

Although not yet joined as a defendant, PDP sent its team of lawyers led by Chief Chris Uche (SAN) and its National Legal Adviser, Mr. Emmanuel Enoidem, to monitor the Wednesday’s proceedings.

Uche informed the judge of his mission to watch the proceedings on Wednesday.

Enoidem told journalists after the Tuesday’s proceedings that PDP would apply to be joined as a defendant in the suit.

The plaintiffs had in their suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/299, prayed for an order mandating INEC to go ahead with the supplementary election scheduled to hold on Saturday following the commission’s earlier declaration of the March 9 exercise inconclusive.

They are challenging the decision of INEC to reverse its earlier position to conduct a supplementary election.

INEC had said the supplementary poll was no longer necessary and continue with the collation of the results after a re-computation of the results showed that the March 9, 2019 governorship election in the state ought not to have been declared inconclusive.

(PUNCHNG)