Posted by News Express | 16 March 2022 | 690 times
Efforts by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to set aside the order of Justice Bello Kawu stopping the party’s scheduled March 26, National Convention, Tuesday suffered a setback due to rightful legal representation of the party.
The APC had initially slated February 26, for its national convention where it will elect leaders into key national offices of the party, but had to postpone it by a month.
However, shortly after necessary committees for the convention were set up, an order restraining the party from going ahead with the planned convention surfaced.
The said restraining order was issued on November 18, 2021 by Justice Bello Kawu of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court.
By the order, APC was barred from proceeding with the convention in February or March or any other dates pending the hearing and determination of a suit against the conduct of the convention.
Following the discovery of this order and being determined to conduct its convention come March 26, the APC had swiftly moved to get the court to vacate the order by filing an application to that effect.
However, when the application was called Tuesday at the FCT High Court sitting in Kubwa, there was a mild confusion as two lawyers claimed to be representing the APC and Mai Mala Buni, who are the first and second defendants in the suit respectively, while the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the third defendant.
Mr Shuaibu Aruwa (SAN) and Michael Adoyi, who claimed to be from the Chambers of Musa Yakubu (SAN), announced appearance for both APC and Buni, who is the Chairman, Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee and Yobe State Governor.
According to the senior lawyer, the first and second defendants have briefed him to take over the matter from Musa Yakubu (SAN).
But Adoyi, who held brief for Yakubu, countered the senior lawyer, stating that his principal has not been debriefed from the matter.
Responding, Aruwa told the court that they have a copy of the letter of instruction to represent the first and second defendants in the matter.
“After we were briefed, we filed a notice of change of counsel and we informed counsel in court of the changes and there was no complaint,” he added.
Adoyi however insisted that his chambers have not been debriefed, adding that the case file is still with him.
”We were not served with the hearing notice of this matter today and we did not receive any letter debriefing us. The case file is still with me. Mai Mala Buni told my principal that the brief is still extant. We are still in this matter representing the first and second respondents,” he said.
Following the confusion over the rightful counsel to the first and second defendants, the court observed that the case cannot go on as scheduled and subsequently announced a short adjournment to enable the APC put its house in order.
”Having heard from counsel, it appears there is disagreement over who the counsel representing the first and second respondents will be. I therefore, order the first and second respondents to write to the court who their counsel is. This matter is hereby adjourned to March 17, 2022,” the Justice said.
Justice Kawu had on November 18, 2021, while ruling in an exparte application, halted the APC convention to enable him reach a decision in the originating summons by Hon. Salisu Umoru who challenged the planned convention.
In the case with suit number FCT/HC/CV/2958/2021 and motion number FCT/HC/M/9655/21, the plaintiff prayed the court for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the first and second defendants and their agents from organising, holding or conducting the National Convention of the APC in January and February or at any other date either before or after pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
The judge after granting the order warned that the subject matter of the case has become subjudice and must not be tampered with.
The claimant informed the court that the mere inauguration of sub-committees for the March 26 National Convention when the order of the court is in force is a demonstration of disdain for the rule of law in the country.
The electoral umpire, INEC, had last week wrote to the APC, insisting that the commission does not recognize Abu Bello’s leadership, and also informed the APC that it has not performed one of the requisite requirements for a valid NEC meeting or National Convention.
In the letter signed by Rose Anthony, Secretary to the Commission, the attention of the APC was drawn to section 82(1) of the electoral act, which provides that: “Every registered political party shall give the Commission at least 21 days’ notice of any convention, congress, conference or meeting convened for the purpose of ‘merger’ and electing members of its executive committees, other governing bodies or nominating candidates for any of the elective offices specified under this Act.” (THISDAY)
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