Imo state governor and senator-elect, Rochas Okorocha on Tuesday, stormed the Federal High Court, Abuja in pursuit of his certificate of return as the senator-elect for Imo West Senatorial District.
The governor, who was accompanied by some of his aides and lawyers, drove into the court premises after 4pm in a convoy. After about 30 minutes, he walked out of the court but refused to speak with newsmen.
The governor, in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/296/2019, filed by his counsel, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN) is seeking court order compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue him a certificate of return as the validly elected senator for Imo West senatorial district. Hearing in the suit has however, suffered several setbacks following some legal gymnastics introduced by some interested parties to the suit.
The setbacks reached a climax when Justice Taiwo. O. Taiwo, who was assigned to adjudicate on the case withdrew from the matter over allegations of bias made against him by candidates of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the February 23 National Assembly election, Jones Onyeriri and that of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA); Senator Osita Izunaso.
The case has since been assigned to another judge of the court, Justice Okon Abang, who has already adjourned it to May 8, 2019 at the instance of the plaintiff.
On the last hearing date, Justice Abang, who took over the case explained that “this matter was reassigned from Justice Taiwo for adjudication by my court on April 10, 2019.”
Counsel to the plaintiff, Ademola Abimbola, who requested an adjournment, had informed the court that a motion on notice was served on him in court by the PDP, a party seeking to be joined in the suit as an interested party.
According to Abimbola, “the matter is for hearing today. However, just this morning, PDP served us with a motion on notice dated and filed on April 17, 2019. We intend to oppose this motion, which is intended to delay the hearing of this matter. We therefore apply for a short adjournment to file a counter affidavit in opposition to the application for joinder.”
He further drew the attention of the court to a petition by the Imo State chapter of the All Progressive Congress (APC) against the court.
However, Justice Abang said the APC was not a party in the suit and that a non-party cannot take steps to frustrate the hearing of the suit.
On the request for adjournment, Justice Abang ruled that “since there is no objection, I am inclined to adjourne this matter at the instance of the plaintiff for hearing of the application for joinder. “
Counsel to INEC, Mrs. Wendy Kuku, N. A. Nnwuchi (SAN) for Jones Onyeriri; Prince Orji Nwafor- Orizu for Senator Osita Izunaso and other parties to the suit did not object to the request for adjournment.
The PDP had, in a motion filed by its counsel, S.C. Imo, prayed the court for an order extending the time within which it may apply to be joined in the suit.
An order of court joining the PDP as the eighth defendant in the suit as well as an order directing the plaintiff/respondent to amend his originating processes and other subsequent processes issued in the suit in order to reflect the joinder of PDP as the 8th defendant in this suit.
The party, in its motion brought pursuant to order nine rule 25 further prayed the court for an order directing all originating processes in the suit be served on it as the eighth defendant in this suit.