Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal on Wednesday ordered an accelerated hearing in the appeal filed by the Action Peoples Party (APP) against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the exclusion of its candidates from participating in the 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa and Kogi States.
A three-man member panel of the appellate court headed by its Acting President, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, specifically granted the motion for abridgement of time filed and argued by the party.
The said motion was filed on March 30th wherein the appellant sought for the abridgement of time by directing INEC to respond to its appeal within five days.
The party argued that out of the statutory 60 days stipulated for the hearing of the appeal, 30 days have already been spent.
Counsel to the APP Mr Obed Agu added that if the motion for abridgement of time is not granted, it will rob the court of its jurisdiction to hear the appeal as it would become statute-barred.
Ruling on the motion, the Acting President of the court, Justice Dongban-Mensem, who was sitting for the first time after her swearing-in on March 6th, granted the request.
The court, accordingly, ordered INEC to respond to the appeal within five days and adjourned further hearing of the appeal to April 8th.
Earlier, the Acting President charged litigants to be mindful of the coronavirus disease and observe all health protocols governing the conduct of persons in the face of the pandemic as they come to court.
“In view of the perilous times, counsel should make a point of duty not to delay proceedings unnecessarily.
“No filling of frivolous applications,” said Justice Dongban-Mensem.
Excited by this, counsel to APP, Mr Obed Agu said, “I’m amazed that the president is here herself.
“That shows how duty-bound she is. It shows a lot about her dexterity. Any other person would have given excuses over the lockdown.”
The APP had in its appeal marked CA/ABJ/CV/218/2020 against asked the appellate court to abridge the time in the hearing of the case for being statute-barred.
The appeal proper is against the judgment of Justice Ijeoma of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court delivered on February 21st, wherein she held that INEC was right to have excluded candidates of the party (APP) in the governorship election in Kogi and Bayelsa States in 2019.
The judgment of the trial court was predicated on the ground that APP replaced its withdrawn candidates outside the statutory period of 45 days to the date of the 2019 Kogi and Bayelsa States governorship election.