The Federal High Court, Abuja, has fixed September 11, for judgment in a suit filed by Senator Dino Melaye, represents Kogi West, seeking an order of court to stop his recall from the Senate.
Also, the vacation judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba has slated September 11, for judgment in a sister suit filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and 12 others from Kogi State chapter of the Party, against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), challenging the planned recall of Melaye.
Arguing the substantive suit, Melaye’s counsel, Nkem Okoro, urged the court to grant the plaintiff’s reliefs seeking to stop the recall process.
Melaye’s amended originating summon dated August 7, and filed same day, was brought pursuant to Sections 1(1)(3), 36, 68 and 69 of the 1999 Constitution and Order 3, Rule 6 of the Federal High Court Rules.
Standing on his processes, Okoro stated that Melaye was challenging the purported petition for his recall on five grounds. He averred that “the petitioners ought to have availed him with facts and circumstances upon which the alleged lost of confidence was based, prior to submission of the petition to INEC; “That by not giving him copies of the petitions, INEC has violated the rule of natural justice and fair hearing.”
Melaye also posited that even when the petition was submitted, the electoral body failed to give him a copy.
He equally challenged the constitutionality of required numbers of signatories to the petition in line with Section 69 of the Constitution, which requires more than half of registered voters in the constituency.
His lawyer in urging the court to uphold his prayers in the originating summon, submitted that, “majority of the signatures/signatories to the petition are non-existent, dead and forged.
He insisted that the petition was “initiated as a result of political malice, bad fate and animosity. Counsel to the second to fifth plaintiffs, Ponsak Bigun, aligned himself with submission of Okoro, and urged court to grant Melaye’s prayers.
However, counsel to INEC, Sulayiman Ibrahim, in a counter affidavit he filed on July 14, urged the court to dismiss Melaye’s suit for lacking in merit.
Also, the second to fourth defendants represented by Anthony Adeniyi prayed the court to discountenance the submissions of Melaye’s lawyer. Earlier, Ibrahim had argued INEC’s preliminary objection challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear Melaye’s suit as presently constituted.
INEC noted that the amended originating summon dated August 7 and filed on August 8, was incongruous and grossly incompetent, having been filed contrary to Order 3 Rule 9 and Order 17 Rules 4, 5 of the Federal High Court Procedure Rules.
Counsel to INEC told Justice Dimgba that after leave was granted for amendment of the originating summon, Melaye filed an affidavit that was completely at variance with order of court without obtaining leave.
Replying on points of law, Melaye’s lawyer urged court to dismiss the preliminary objection, insisting that “the amended originating summon is in compliance with Order 3 Rule 9.”
Okoro informed the court that INEC had even responded to the summon, “and had waived his right by already joining issues.
“My Lord, his complainant about variance assuming without conceding that it is an irregularity, cannot nullify the originating summon based on the provisions of Order 51 of FHC rules. “Supreme Court has said that technicality cannot stand on the way of substantial justice” Okoro argued.
Meanwhile, in the suit filed by APC against INEC, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/601/2017, the court took arguments from the plaintiff and defence counsel, and fixed September 11, for judgment.
Adopting his originating processes, counsel to APC, Samuel Ologunorisa, urged the court to grant the reliefs sought by the plaintiff.
Ologunorisa argued that there was no counter affidavit from the defendant, insisting that one Alhaji Addy Ametuo, a litigation clerk, who failed to disclose his source of information, deposed to the affidavit.
“My Lord, this is fundamentally defective. All that was stated in the counter-affidavit was that the deponent works in the chamber of Yusuf Ustaz Usman.
However, INEC’s lawyer, Yunus Usman urged court to dismiss the suit.