From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Federal High Court, has adjourned proceedings in a suit filed by Mr Akanimo Udofia, a factional governirship candidate of Akwa Ibom All Progressives Congress (APC) to await an Appeal Court decision in a similar matter.
Justice Emeka Nwite, who adjourned the case to January 23, held that since the reliefs sought in Udofia’s suit were similar to the reliefs granted by the Uyo division of the court in Sen. Ita Enang’s case, his court would be bound by the Court of Appeal decision.
Justice Nwite, who agreed with Udofia’s counsel, Umeh Kalu, SAN, said the adjournment would also be in the interest of justice.
A Federal High Court sitting in Uyo had, on November 14, nullified the nomination of Mr Udofia as the governorship candidate of the APC in Akwa Ibom.
The judge, Agatha Okeke, in the suit instituted by Mr Enang, a contestant in the poll, ordered the APC to conduct a fresh governorship primary within two weeks but barred Udofia from participating in the new primary.
But Udofia had filed an appeal marked: CS/C/370/2022 to challenge the said judgment.
The Abuja division of the Court which heard the matter on Dec. 24, 2022, had reserved judgment in the matter.
However, when a suit filed by Udofia against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in which Enang was joined, came up before Justice Nwite on Tuesday, Enang had prayed the court to dismiss the suit for lack of diligent prosecution.
The ex-lawmaker also urged the court to commit Udofia to prison for allegations bordering on perjury.
Earlier, Kalu had asked for an adjournment to await the decision of the superior court and the judge adjouned for today (Wednesday) to deliver the ruling.
Delivering the ruling, Justice Nwite, who read all the 10 reliefs granted by the Uyo court in Enang’s suit marked: FHC/UY/CS/114/22, said: “It is not in dispute that the reliefs sought in the instant suit is similar to the reliefs granted by my learner brother, Okeke A.A., which is subject to appeal and judgment so reserved.”
According to Nwite, the Uyo court made a declaration that the 1st defendant, Mr Akanimo Asuquo Udofia, not being a member of APC as at 26th May, 2022, and having not fulfilled the requirements of Articles 9.5, 214(II) and 32(1)(I) of the constitution of APC is not qualified to contest the governirship primary election of APC in Akwa Ibom State.
After reading out all the reliefs, the judge stated that his court would be bound by the decision of the superior court.
“By virtue of stare decisis, this court is bound by decision of Court of the Appeal,” he said.
He said that since the Appeal Court judgment would be delivered on or before Jan. 20, it was only wise to await the decision.
“It is also not in doubt that the instant suit has a life span above the Court of Appeal matter,” he said.
Nwite said going by the above undisputed fact, he was of the view that the adjournment should be granted.
He consequently adjourned the matter until January 23 for hearing.
The APC and Udofia had sued INEC as the sole defendant in the matter before Nwite.
Udofia had sought an order compelling INEC to accept his name as governorship candidate for Akwa Ibom 2023 poll.
He also asked for an order directing the commission to publish his name as forwarded by the party to it.
The court after listening to parties in the suit had fixed Oct 6, 2022 for judgment.
But the appearance of Enang in court forced the judge to halt the delivery of the judgment.
Enang, the ex-presidential aide, drew the attention of the court to his presence as a party seeking to be joined in the matter and the court granted his prayer in a motion he brought for joinder on December 6, 2022.