Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Wednesday adjourned the case of the Bauchi gubernatorial election to Thursday, March 21.
The All Progressive Congress (APC) had dragged INEC to court over the commission’s decision to resume the collation exercise of the state’s governorship election.
The APC and its candidate, the incumbent Governor of Bauchi State, Mohammed Abubakar, say INEC lacks the power to resume collation exercise in an election that had already been declared inconclusive by the returning officer.
Justice Ekwo had ruled on Tuesday that INEC should suspend the proposed resumption of collation pending the determination of the case. He then adjourned proceedings to Wednesday. Following the ruling, INEC accordingly suspended the exercise.
At the resumption of the trial, counsel to the APC, Ahmed Raji informed the court that he had just been served a preliminary objection alongside a counter affidavit by the INEC counsel and that he would need time to study it and file a response.
The Counsel to INEC raised no objection and so the trial judge adjourned the case till 2 pm on Thursday.
Justice Ekwo also reprimanded the media for reporting that, what he granted on Tuesday was an ex parte order.
He stressed that court documents were public documents and where one does not understand, such a one ought to seek clarification.
Speaking with journalists after the hearing, counsel to the APC, Ahmed Raji explained that what the judge granted on Tuesday was not an ex parte order since INEC was in court that day.
“On Monday, when we came here, we moved the ex parte application, and he (the trial judge) said no, that we should put them (INEC) on notice, and they should come on Tuesday to come and show cause,” Raji explained.
“And on Tuesday when they came here, they could not show cause, but he (the judge) now said, that rather than allow things to remain fluid, status quo should be maintained pending the outcome of the case.
“So it wasn’t an ex parte order, it was made in the presence of both parties. That is what his Lordship was trying to explain.”
PDP seeks to join suit
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) wants to be joined in the case between the APC and INEC over the Bauchi governorship election, but the party could not be granted audience when the matter came up for hearing on Wednesday, because the trial judge had to grant a one-day adjournment as requested by Ahmed Raji, the counsel to the APC and Governor Mohammed Abubakar.
The National Legal Adviser to the PDP, Emmanuel Enoidem, told newsmen shortly after Wednesday’s proceedings that the party was in court because it is interested in the matter.
“This is a case that the PDP has an obvious interest, but unfortunately we are not joined, but we came as an interested party. Tomorrow we will be here again to watch what is happening. But it is obvious that the court is ready to give justice to all the parties,” Enoidem said.