Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
Justice Jane Inyang of the Federal High Court in Yenagoa has refused an application by 436 delegates that voted in the now disputed People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship September 3 primary election to delay the hearing in the suit filed by a frontline governorship aspirant, Chief Ndutimi Alaibe against the winner and governorship candidate, Senator Douye Diri.
The 436 include the eight elected local government chairmen and their vice, 105 councilors and 315 adhoc delegates elected from the 105 wards in the state.
Justice Inyang also declined an application to vacate an earlier order which directed substituted service on the defendants. She, however, abridged the time for the respondents to reply and fixed October 18 for the hearing of the suit.
At the resumed hearing on Monday, counsel to the 4th and 5th defendants who are the 436 delegates, Barr. Chucks Uguru applied orally to the court seeking that the order on substituted service be vacated as they had not been served.
The defendants also requested that a time of between 30 and 42 days be granted for them as provided in the Section 36 of the Constitution as amended to allow for sufficient response to the notice that had not been served them by the plaintiff.
Justice Inyang was to rule on the application by the defendants but stood it own when counsels to both the plaintiffs and defendants told the court that they had agreed for the hearing to commence on October 18.
Counsel to Alaibe, Mr Somina Johnbull, speaking after proceedings said the court only heard the counsels on the report of service and that three out of five had been properly served,
“For the purpose of fair hearing, those without response have been given more time. When the court stood down to consider ruling, the counsels agreed on 18th October 2019. The whole preliminary process is to ensure that there is no obstacle in the speedy hearing of the case. The court did not vacate the order of substantive service. It only set aside order abridging time. They stand nothing to benefit because most of them have been served and they complied.”
Uguru in his own explanation commended the judiciary for its activism to uphold the principle of fair hearing.
“ Sometime last week, behind our back as we have not been served, the plaintiff obtained an order that all be served through substantive service and also that our time of responding to the claim of the plaintiff, which overwhelmingly should be 30 days or 42 days depending on method used, was abridged to five days including Saturday and Sunday. The court to the glory of God, displayed judicial activism and agreed with the submission of the defendant counsels and set aside the order.”