Friday, 28 July 2017

INEC’s request for prompt hearing of Melaye’s suit granted by court

Yesterday 27th July, A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja granted the request by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for accelerated hearing of a suit filed by Senator Dino Melaye, challenging the move to recall him from the upper legislative chamber.

Justice John Tsoho (also of the Federal High Court, Abuja) on July 6 ruled on an ex-parte application filed by Melaye, rejecting his request for interim restraining order, but ordered parties to maintain status quo and adjourned till September 29 for hearing of Melaye’s motion for interlocutory injunction and applications by parties seeking to be joined.

INEC consequently filed three separate documents on July 14, including a summons for accelerated hearing of Melaye’s suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/567/2017, motion on notice for an order setting aside the order made on June 6 and defendant’s counter-affidavit against plaintiff’s originating summons filed on June 23, 2017.

INEC said the order made in its absence on July 6, by Justice Tsoho, has served the sole purpose of preventing it from performing its constitutional responsibilities provided Under Section 69 of the 1999 Constitution and the 90 days allocated for the conclusion of a recall process.

The electoral body said it planned to make public on August 19, its report of the verification of list of voters, who signed the petition against Melaye.

The vacation judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, on Thursday granted INEC’s application for hearing of the suit and hearing of the case during vacation as against the September 29 earlier chosen by Justice Tsoho.

Although INEC’s lawyer, Sulaymen Ibrahim, had indicated his intention to object to application by two sets of people seeking to be made parties in the case, he later withdrew his objection when the judge said he was willing to allow any interested party to join the suit and would hear the substantive suit promptly.

The first application for joinder was filed by one Michael Olowolayemo, who applied to be joined as a co-plaintiff, while the second application was filed by three persons – Chief Olowo Cornelius, John Anjorin and Mallam Yusuf Adamu – who sought to be joined as co-defendants.

In the course of proceedings, Ibrahim and lawyer to those seeking to be made co-defendants, Chief Anthony Adeniyi, questioned Olowolayemo’s motive.

They said his application and Melaye’s objection to it were merely designed to delay hearing of the main suit.

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