By David Mzer
A Federal High Court, Abuja, Thursday fixed September 6 to hear the suit seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from accepting the names of Senatorial candidates from the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Benue State, for the 2023 general elections.
The suit instituted by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Senator Gabriel Suswam, Governor Samuel Ortom and Comrade Abba Moro has INEC and APC as 1st and 2nd defendants.
Also joined as 3rd – 14th defandants are;Bishop Sam Zuga, Dr. Torngee Malu, Hon. Emmanuel Udende, Terlumun Akputu, Titus Zam, Benjamin Adanyi, Dave Awunah, Comrade Dan Onjeh, Hon Nelson Alapa, Barr. Jacob Ajene, Engr. Austine Oleho and Major Gen. Joseph Eje(Rtd).
The suit which was before Justice Emeka Nwite was transferred to another Judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed due to a petition written by the APC to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.
The APC in the petition said they don’t have confidence in Justice Nwite as the daughter of the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Benue State, Michael Gusa, works for the Judge.
When the case came up for mention, Chief Sebastine Hon, SAN, who appeared alongside Andrew Wombo, Samuel Irabor and others for the plaintiffs, suggested that the matter be adjourned for hearing inline with practice direction but parties who had process to file should be allowed be file and exchange processes even if they are out of time before the next adjourned date, so that the matter can be heard on the next adjourned date.
Counsel to INEC, Anthony Onyere informed the court that the he was yet to file processes in the suit, adding that he will file his processes before the next adjourned date.
Counsel to the APC, Fidelis Mnyim, counsel to the fourth defendant, Mathew Bukka and other counsels in the matter didn’t oppose the suggestion by Counsel to the plaintiffs.
The Presiding Judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed accordingly adjourned the matter to September 6 for hearing.
The PDP, Senator Suswam, Governor Ortom and Senator Moro seeking a determination by the court whether by a combined interpretation of sections 77(2) and (3),82(1),(2) and (5);84(1), (4)(a)-(c) and (13) of the Electoral Act 2022 and sections 177(c) and 285(14) (c) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, INEC is not under duty and can be compelled by the court to reject, refuse to accept, refuse to recognize, publish on the ballot paper, the names of Bishop Sam Zuga, Dr. Torngee Malu, Hon. Emmanuel Udende, Terlumun Akputu, Titus Zam, Benjamin Adanyi, Dave Awunah, Comrade Dan Onjeh, Hon Nelson Alapa, Barr. Jacob Ajene, Engr. Austine Oleho and Major Gen. Joseph Eje(Rtd) on the platform of the party as a Senatorial candidate for the 2023 elections in Benue State.
The PDP cites the connivance of INEC with the APC to or willingly breach its duties by allowing the 2nd – 14th defendant to flout mandatory statutory and constitutional provisions with respect to organizing a primary election and sponsoring a candidate for the offices of Senator off each of the the three senatorial districts in Benue State in the said 2023 election.
The PDP is seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining INEC from accepting, recognizing or putting the name of any of the defendants on the ballot paper as candidate sponsored by the APC for the 2023 Senatorial election in Benue State, amongst other reliefs.