A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, stopped the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from prosecuting the suspended Adamawa Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Hudu Yunusa-Ari, over his declaration of Aisha Dahiru, the All Progressives Congress (APC)’s candidate, as governor in the March 18 poll.
Justice Donatus Okorowo made the order after Mr Michael Aondoaka, SAN, counsel to Dahiru, moved the ex-parte motion to the effect.
In the ex-parte motion marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/935/2023, the APC candidate in the poll, sued INEC, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and another as respondents.
Aondoaka, while moving the motion on Monday, argued that until the election petition tribunal decides the fate of his client in accordance with Section 149 of the Electoral Act, 2022, the prosecution of Yunusa-Ari cannot be said to be valid.
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He said the decision of INEC to file action against any person involved in Dahiru’s April 15 declaration as winner of the supplementary poll in the state when the tribunal was yet to determine the petition of his client, would deprive her of Section 285(6) of the law which gives 180 days within which the petition filed on May 6 should be dispensed with.
The senior lawyer, who informed the court that though a similar suit was earlier filed before Justice Inyang Ekwo where a judicial review of INEC’s action was sought, he said the sister court ordered Binani to approach a tribunal with her suit, having being an election-related matter.
He said an undertaking had been signed to prove to the court that the present suit was not frivolous.
He said in the undertaking, they were ready to face any cost should the court found the case to be frivolous.
After listening to Andoaka, Justice Okorowo ordered the parties to maintain status quo ante bellum pending the hearing and determination of the matter.
The judge, who adjourned the matter until July 18 for hearing, ordered the respondents to show cause while the reliefs sought by Dahiru, popularly called “Binani”, should not be granted. (NAN)