…Fixes March 26
The Supreme Court has fixed March 26 for the hearing of an appeal filed by Senator Magnus Abe, seeking the determination of the authenticity or otherwise of the direct primary conducted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State.
Ahead 2019 gubernatorial elections, the APC allegedly conducted a direct primary for the nomination of its candidates for the 2019 general election.
Senator Magnus Abe, a factional leader in Rivers APC, is praying the apex court to make a final pronouncement on the legality of both direct and indirect primary polls conducted by the two factions of the party last year.
At the Thursday hearing, Senator Abe’s counsel, Henry Bello, moved a motion praying the apex court to amongst others grant accelerated trial in the matter, abridgment of time within which parties are to file their processes and a definite date for hearing of the appeal.
The motion dated March 1 was predicated on eight grounds and affidavit of urgency among which is that the matter being a pre-election suit must by law be fully determined within 60 days.
While moving the motion, Bello prayed the five-man panel of the apex court to grant his client accelerated hearing and to order parties to file and exchange their processes within the time allowed by law for a pre-election matter.
Respondents in the appeal are the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), APC and another governorship aspirant, Tonye Cole, along with 36 others.
But INEC, represented by Mathew Anyim, announced to the court that the electoral body has chosen to be neutral in the matter.
However, Celestine Agidi, who stood in for Tonye Cole and his team, did not object to the motion but pleaded that 24 hours will not be sufficient for him to file his brief of argument.
In a ruling, the presiding Justice Mary Odili granted the three prayers of the appellant and adjourned hearing in the matter till March 26.
Justice Odili also ordered Cole and other respondents to file their brief of argument within three days, while the appellant was granted three days within which to file his own response.
The APC though served with hearing notice was not represented in court by either a counsel or any of its staff.