Gov’ship re-run: Tension mounts as court decides Adamawa, Bauchi fate

There is tension ahead of Saturday’s governorship re-run in Adamawa state following the order of a Yola High Court restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from conducting the polls.

The same scenario is playing out in Bauchi, where the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the state governor, Barr Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, have gone to an Abuja High Court to stop the collation and announcement of results of the election conducted in Tafawa Balewa local government area of the state over issues of electoral malpractices.

In the case of Adamawa, a Yola High Court presided over by Justice Abdulazeez Waziri, last week restrained INEC from going ahead with the re-run. 

This followed a suit filed by the governorship candidate of the Movement for Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD), Rev Eric Dollars over the omission of his party logo in the March 9, 2019 governorship election.

The electoral umpire had initially dismissed the court order and vowed to go ahead with the election as planned before it reversed its decision to honour the court judgement. 

The governorship re-run is supposed to hold in 44 polling units across 13 local government areas of the state but the court halted INEC from the exercise.

Addressing journalists Wednesday at INEC office in Yola, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Barr Kashim Geidam, said the commission had been served with a court order restraining it from going ahead with the re-run. He explained that, as a law abiding institution, the Commission was ready to comply with the court order, which fixed today (Thursday) for hearing of the substantive suit filed by MRDD candidate in the exercise.

According to him, the issue of whether the re-run would hold this Saturday as scheduled will depend on the outcome of today’s hearing.

He said INEC would be fully represented in court by a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) among its other legal team.

He said the necessary materials for the re-run election have been kept in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), stating that should the court uphold INEC’s time-table for the election, security and logistics arrangements had been put in place for the exercise.

Geidam, however, said the court order does not affect the House of Assembly election in Nasarawo/Binyeri constituency of Mayo Belwa local government, which was postponed due to the death of the APC candidate; as well as that of Uba/Gaya constituency in Hong local government, which was declared inconclusive in the last exercise.

Meanwhile, a Federal High Court in Abuja Wednesday adjourned the hearing of the substantive suit filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the governor of Bauchi state, Muhammed Abubakar, to March 21.

Although an appeal had been made by the counsel to the APC, Ahmed Raji, that he needed time to reply the preliminary objection and a counter affidavit served it by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The judge, Inyang Ekwo, had granted an interim injunction restraining INEC from resuming, concluding and announcing the governorship election result in the state, pending the determination of all issues raised by the plaintiffs in their originating summons.

The plaintiffs in the suit are challenging the decision of INEC to resume collation of results of an election that was earlier declared inconclusive.

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has appeared in court seeking to be joined in the suit as an interested and affected party.

The PDP also petitioned the National Judicial Council over what it described as a violation of the Constitution and Electoral Act by Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, Wednesday, the party accused the judge of sitting on a matter that ought to have been handled by an election petition tribunal, as created by the provisions of the law.

Earlier, Justice Ekwo had ordered INEC not to go ahead with its planned collation, conclusion and announcement of the results of the March 9 Bauchi state governorship elections.

The order was based on an exparte application filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the incumbent governor.

The court held that the restraining order is to last till the determination of the suit brought before the court by the two parties.

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