Court orders accelerated hearing in Sowore Vs NEDG/BON suit


A Federal Capital Territory High Court has ordered an accelerated hearing in a suit filed by the African Action Congress (AAC) and its presidential candidate, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, against the Nigerian Elections Debate Group (NEDG), Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON) and the chairman of BON, Mr. Mr. John Momoh, challenging their (AAC and candidate) exclusion from the presidential election debate organized by the respondents.

It would be recalled that in December 2018, NEDG/BON shortlisted the candidates of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili; Alliance for New Nigeria, Mr. Fela Durotoye; All Progressives Congress, President Muhammadu Buhari, Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Atiku Abubakar and Young Progressives Party, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu for the presidential and vice presidential debates.

The AAC/Sowore legal action is seeking the declaration of the court that the deployment of state media apparatus, including the National Television Authority (NTA), Radio Nigeria and the Voice of Nigeria (VON), by organisers of the debate to the advantage of five selected political parties and the disadvantage of the AAC and Sowore is contrary to Section 100 (2) of the Electoral Act 2000 (as amended).

The applicants, in suit No: CV/652/18, also ask the court to declare that the AAC and Sowore are entitled to equal media time to participate in the January 19, 2019 presidential debate to propagate the manifesto of the AAC as provided for in Section 100 (3) of the Electoral Act (as amended) and the Nigerian Broadcasting Code (Sixth Edition, 2016).

Sowore and AAC also filed a motion on notice for an order of injunction restraining the NEDG, BON and Momoh from organising or holding the January 19, 2019 presidential debate without including the AAC and Sowore among the participating parties and candidates.

A statement issued by the director of media and communications of Sowore 2019 Campaign, Ms. Rachel Onamusi-Kpiasi, reads in part: “Sitting in Court 14 of the FCT High Court, Jabi, December 31, 2018, Hon. Justice D. Z. Senchi listened to a motion ex parte for interim injunction to restrain the defendants from organizing or holding the January 19, 2019 presidential election debate without including the AAC among the political parties selected to participate in the debate.

“After listening to submissions made by the national legal adviser of the AAC, Mr. Inibehe Effiong, the court ruled that the urgency of the case warranted an accelerated hearing of the suit to allow all parties in the suit to state their cases before a decision could be made.”

The judge therefore adjourned the case to January 8, 2019 for hearing and also ordered that all processes in the suit must be filed before the next adjourned date and that no application for extension of time will be entertained by the Court.

Representing the AAC in court were the party’s national legal adviser, Inibehe Effiong; his co-counsel, Mr. Seprebofa Oyeghe; AAC deputy national secretary, Dr. Joshua Adeoye; AAC national organizing secretary, Mr. Philip Oshiokhue and other members.

With ThisDay report


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