A Federal High Court Judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a Federal High Court, Abuja on Friday withdrew from handling a suit challenging the removal of the Senator representing Akwa Ibom East Senatorial zone, Senator Bassey Albert Akpan over negative publications by an online news portal.
When the matter came up yesterday, the trial Judge, Justice Dimgba told parties that he was withdrawing from the matter based on the said publication, which he said disparaged his person and insinuating personal interest following the conduct of proceedings on the 8th of March, 2017.
Dimgba had last Wednesday threatened to withdraw from the matter following the negative publication, which counsel to Senator Akpan and those of INEC and Bassey Etim denied knowledge of.
“I denied all insinuations of what transpired on March 8th, 2017”, Justice Dimgba said and adjourned the matter till yesterday, March 24, 2017, but addede that, “in the event of further resolution on the said publication, I may decide to disqualify myself from hearing of the suit and hand over the case file to the Chief Judge for re-assignment.
The Judge held that even though he acknowledged the apologies of counsel in the matter, he said it will be better for him to withdraw from the matter.
He said if he decides to take the motion and the objections and found them meritorious and strikes it out, the plaintiff will say he has succumbed to the blackmail of the defendants and if, on the other hand, he handled the matter and give judgment, one way or the other, the plaintiff will say that he has played in line with the plaintiff.
“I think, the best thing to do, is to withdraw from this matter and return the case file to the Chief Judge for re-assignment to another Judge”, he said.
Recalled that Senator Akpan’s election was nullified on the 27th of February 2017, and consequently sacked from the Senate by a Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, while the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was ordered to issue certificate of return to Bassey Etim as winner of the National Assembly election held in the state.
Dissatisfied with the judgment, Akpan approached the Federal High Court, Abuja with an ex parte application seeking interim preservatory orders against INEC, the Senate President, Clerk of the National Assembly and Clerk of the Senate, who are 1st to 4th defendants respectively in the suit.