Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Federal High Court has adjourned to July 20, hearing in the suit filed by Reform and Advancement Party (RAP) and its 2019 governorship candidate, Mr Okere Kingdom seeking to remove Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo state.
Meanwhile, Justice Okon Abang has directed that hearing notices should be served on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since the party was not represented in court.
In its orginating processes, RAP and Mr Okere Kingdom are seeking judicial interpretation on whether the All Progressives Congress (APC) indeed sponsored Gov. Uzodimma in the 2019 Imo governorship election.
The plaintiffs predicated the action on the judgment of the Supreme Court, which affirmed Uche Nwosu as the duly nominated 2019 Imo governorship candidate of the APC.
Kingdom said that one of the issues he wanted the court to determine was whether Uzodimma lawfully participated and was sponsored by the APC to contest the 2019 Imo governorship election in accordance with Section 177 (c) of the 1999 Constitution.
“This is having regard to the tenor, clear and unambiguous legal implications/consequences of the judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in appeal no: SC/1384/2019 which upheld the decision of both the Court of Appeal and the Federal High Court and affirmed Uche Nwosu as the authentic and duly elected/nominated 2019 Imo State governorship candidate of the APC.”
When the matter came up on Thursday, Kingdom informed the court of his application for an abridgment of the time within which the defendants would file their responses.
Under the rule of law, the defendants have 30 days to respond but the plaintiff told the court that he made the application for the court to abridge the time due to the urgency of the matter.
Kingdom, who is also a lawyer, maintained that the matter was of constitutional importance because Uzodimma was occupying the seat of Imo governor illegally, having not participated in the 2019 election as a candidate of any political party.
He specifically, asked for an order abridging the time within which the plaintiffs/applicants may file their replies to five days from the date of service of such processes on them.
An order abridging the time within which the defendants/respondents may file their counter affidavit and written addresses in opposition to the originating summons, and every other application(s) they may wish to file to seven days from the date of granting the application. The application was rooted on the grounds that “the suit is of extreme national importance and borders on the interpretation of the constitution to determine if the 1st defendant is lawfully occupying the office of the Governor of Imo State.
“That the continued unlawful occupation of the office of the 2nd defendant and performing the functions of the office by the 1st defendant is a matter that demands serious and urgent constitutional interpretation. That it is the duty of this Hon. Court to speedily interpret the sections of the constitution sought for interpretation in this suit.” All the defendants raised objection to the application on the grounds that they needed the time given by the constitution to respond. Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Mr Alhassan Umar, SAN, told the court that in line with the principles of fair hearing, the defendants needed to take sufficient time as allocated by the law to respond.
He argued that the plaintiff could not take the required time to file his processes only to ask the court to abridge the time for the respondents. The judge, Justice Okon Abang adjourned the matter to July 20 to hear the application.