Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin-Kebbi
The Federal High Court sitting in Birnin-Kebbi, Kebbi State has ordered Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah representing Kebbi South senatorial district to respond to plaintiff applications challenging his victory at the All Progressives Congress (APC) senatorial primary.
The plaintiff, Prince Sule-Iko, Sadeeq Sani, who contested against Na’Allah, had sued APC and INEC as first and third defendants in the suit number FHC/ABJ/1276/2018.
The plaintiff is seeking the order of the court to declare his the winner of the senatorial primary election and also declare that the third defendant’s appeal committee sitting and final decision purportedly made is null and void for lack of fair hearing to the plaintiff and therefore unconventional.
At the court sitting on Thursday which lasted till 6pm, counsel to the plaintiff, Barrister Abubakar Suleiman, who expressed frustration over the second defendant’s counsel not to have filed any counter application and court affidavit since they were properly served more than 21 days, argued that the law presumed that they have agreed with the plaintiff argument.
He cited Section 114 of the Evidence Act, the case of Buhari vs INEC 2008, LA and AC Ltd vs UBA 2014, and Halilu vs FG 2008, stressing that the action of the second defendant also violated Order 26 Rule 3 of the Federal High Court.
The plaintiff’s counsel informed the court that the case had suffered a lot, stressing that out of 180 days required by law to hear the suit, the parties had just 18 days left to conclude the matter.
Abubakar also urged the court to discountenance prayer of the INEC which claimed that the court should discontinue the case for lack of jurisdiction and argued that the third defendant had failed to respond within 21 days stipulated by the law.
Counsel to the second defendant, E.C Ogolina, told the court that there was nothing to respond to in the plaintiff’s applications, contending that the whole court suit “is dead before arrival.”
Ogolina who admitted that they had failed for not responding promptly, explained that the APC constitution Article 21(x) been cited by the plaintiff’s counsel did not prevent the plaintiff from seeking redress in the court of law.
Counsel to the third respondent, Barrister Adeyemo Ifeoluwa, while moving her preliminary objection, urged the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s case “because the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.”
While ruling on the late responses to the plaintiff’s applications by the second defendant, Justice Sunday, Onu Basset, awarded N50,000 as running cost against the second defendant and ordered the second defendant to file his respondent’s applications.
Justice Basset entertained all the preliminary objections applications before adjourning the case till April 15, 2019, for hearing.