Adamawa governorship: Court turns away Fintiri’s lawyer, fixes April 26 for hearing

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A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, refused to allow a lawyer for Gov Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa to address the court in an ex-parte motion filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s candidate in the Adamawa governorship election, Sen. Aisha Dahiru Binani.

At Tuesday’s mention of the matter, Fintiri’s counsel, Mr Afeez Matomi, announced appearance for the governor, who is the 3rd respondent in the suit.

However, the presiding judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo then asked Matomi if he had been served.

The lawyer told the court that he got the hint about Binani’s ex-parte motion through the social media, and decided to file a motion to counter Binani’s motion, even though he was yet to be served.

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But the judge, who declined to listen to Fintiri’s lawyer, said it was imperative for the counsel to go by what the law says, and refused to allow him address the court, having not been served the processes by the applicant.

The Judge, instead, ordered the APC candidate’s counsel, Mohammed Sheriff, to address the court on whether the court had the jurisdiction to hear the matter, before hearing the substantive motion.

The lawyer said his ex-parte motion was filed on April 17 and that he was ready to move it.

The judge said although he was ready to hear Sheriff, the lawyer must address the court on issue of jurisdiction before he proceeded.

“I am ready too but you have to address me on jurisdiction,” he said.

Justice Ekwo, held that the exparte application would be taken together with the issue of jurisdiction on the next adjourned date.

He, consequently, adjourned the matter until April 26 for hearing of the motion and an address on jurisdiction.

Periscope International reports that Binani and APC, had in the motion ex-parte marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/510/2023, through her lawyer, Hussaini Zakariyau, SAN, sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), People Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Gov. Fintiri as 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents respectively.

Binani had sought a judicial review of the administrative decision of INEC on April 16 in respect of her declaration as the winner of the governorship elections held on March 18 and the supplementary poll of April 15.

She is also seeking an order of prohibition and certiorari preventing INEC and its agents from taking any further steps towards the declaration of the winner of the elections pending the determination of her application for judicial review.

The application was brought pursuant to Order 34 Rules 1a, Order 3(1) & 3(2) a, b, c, Order 6 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure Rules), 2019 and Section 251 (1)q & r of the 1999 Constitution, as well as Section 149 & 152 of the Electoral Act, 2022.

Giving grounds why the motion should be granted, Binani stated that after the collation of results, INEC declared her as the winner of the elections but the PDP and its candidate, Governor Fintiri, resorted to fighting and causing a public disturbance which led to the beating and manhandling of an INEC staff.

This crisis, she said, led INEC to cancel the initial declaration which it had no power to do as only the election petition tribunal is vested with such powers.

By cancelling her declaration, Binani contended that INEC usurped the powers of the election petition tribunal which is the only court vested with powers on a declaration from the conduct of an election.

In the application, she averred that a judicial review exists to enable the superior court to checkmate the actions and decisions of inferior courts as well as the legislative and administrative arm of government including agencies and public officers.

The applicant further submits that the INEC, being an agency of the government, can have its actions, records, and decisions checked by the court and only a court can nullify the actions of an INEC official and not the INEC itself.

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