The Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday, refused to extend its July 10 interim order stopping the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) from prosecuting the suspended Adamawa State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Hudu Yunusa Ari pending the hearing and determination of a motion filed by Senator Aishatu Dahiru, also known as Binani.
INEC is seeking the prosecution of the suspended REC for declaring the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Aisha Binani winner of the Adamawa state governorship election on April 15, 2023.
The court had ordered parties in the motion filed by Binani, which had INEC, IGP and the AGF as defendants to maintain the status quo pending the determination of the substantive suit.
The Court also asked the defendants to appear before it on July 18 to show cause while they should not be permanently restrained from prosecuting the suspended Adamawa State REC.
At Tuesday’s proceedings, INEC’s counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) told the court that the applicant had not served the defendants with the July 10 order of the court.
Jacobs, who also told the court that, the defendants have not been served with the originating summons filed by Binani had, in a counter affidavit to the motion challenged the competence and the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter.
He told the court that the life span of the interim order elapsed on July 18.
However, counsel to Binani, Michael Aondoaka (SAN) argued that the interim order has not elapsed as the defendants have not shown cause as directed by the court.
According to Aondoaka, counsel to INEC cannot say he was not served with the processes of the court as he had joined issues in the matter.
Justice Donatus Okorowo, however, adjourned the matter till Monday, July 24 for hearing the originating summons served on the defendants in court on Tuesday.
The court refused to extend the interim order stopping the prosecution of the suspended Adamawa state REC.
In the suit marked, ABJ/CS/935/2023, the applicant is seeking the interpretation of section 144 of the Electoral Act 2022 by the court and a preservative order seeking the maintenance of status quo in the matter pending the determination of the suit.
Aondoaka, in the application, drew the attention of the court to the fact that the matter is before a tribunal and is time-bound, whereas the star witness to his client, Hudu Yunusa Ari is being harassed and prevented from giving evidence before the tribunal which if continued, would jeopardize the case of his client at the tribunal.
He therefore, urged the court to halt the harassment of the star witness in the petition before a governorship election petition tribunal challenging INEC’s declaration of a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate and governor of the state, Ahmadu Fintiri as the winner on Sunday, April 16, 2023.
The lawyer told the court that according to the relevant laws, since the applicant has been declared by the INEC, the declaration can only be legally and authentically reversed if need be, by a court of competent jurisdiction or a tribunal.
Senator Binani had earlier, through her counsel, Mohammed Sheriff filed a suit before a sister court presided over by Justice Inyang Ekwo which was, however, dismissed following a notice of discontinuance filed by the applicant.
The Adamawa State governorship supplementary election was conducted on April 15 following the declaration of the March 18 poll as inconclusive over alleged irregularities.
After voting ended, the collation of results began at the state collation centre but the exercise was suspended after results from 10 LGAs were announced.
However, Hudu Yunusa-Ari, the state’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, declared Senator Binani as the winner before the collation resumed on April 16.
Yunusa-Ari made the declaration when outstanding results were yet to be announced. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) subsequently described his action as illegal and null and void.
INEC also suspended him and is determined to prosecute him for electoral malpractice.