A FEDERAL High Court in Abuja on Tuesday, April 18, refused to hear an ex-parte motion filed against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the Adamawa governorship election, Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed (Binani).
Binani had asked the court to stop INEC from declaring any other result in the Adamawa governorship poll, after the Commission nullified her declaration as winner of the election by the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Ari.
When the ex-parte motion came up on Tuesday, the judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo, refused to hear the application and instead ordered the APC candidate’s counsel, Mohammed Sheriff, to address the court on the issue of jurisdiction before the substantive motion can be heard.
Afeez Matomi appeared for Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Governor Ahmadu Fintiri, the third respondent in the suit.
Justice Ekwo asked Matomi if he had been served with the motion, to which the lawyer responded that he had not been served but had filed a motion to counter part of Binani’s prayers.
Matomi said his client got the hint about the ex-parte motion through the social media, hence, they decided to file a motion.
Thereafter, Binani’s lawyer, Sheriff, said the ex-parte motion was filed on April 17, adding that he was ready to move it.
However, the judge said though he was ready to hear Sheriff, he would not do so until the lawyer addresses the court on the issue of jurisdiction.
Justice Ekwo held that the motion would be taken together with the issue of jurisdiction on the next adjourned date and consequently adjourned the matter until April 26 for hearing of the motion and an address on jurisdiction.
Binani and the APC, in the motion ex-parte marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/510/2023, had sued INEC, the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Fintiri, as 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents, respectively.
The APC candidate is seeking a judicial review of the decision of INEC on April 16 in respect of her declaration as the winner of the governorship election held on March 18 and the supplementary poll of April 15.
She is also seeking an order preventing INEC and its agents from taking any further steps towards the declaration of the winner of the election 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.
Stating grounds as to why the motion should be granted, Binani noted that after the collation of results, INEC declared her as the winner of the elections but the PDP and its candidate resorted to fighting and causing a public disturbance which led to the beating and manhandling of an INEC staff.
The crisis, she said, led INEC to cancel the initial declaration. Binani argued that INEC had no power to cancel the declaration as only the election petition tribunal was vested with such powers.
Binani contended that by cancelling her declaration, INEC usurped the powers of the election petition tribunal which was the only court vested with powers on a declaration from the conduct of an election.
She averred that a judicial review existed 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 submitted that INEC, being an agency of the government, could have its actions, records and decisions checked by the court and only a court could nullify the actions of an INEC official and not INEC itself.