By Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Valentine Ashi of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), on Friday restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from issuing its Certificate of Return to Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate, Chris Ekpeyong, winner of the Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District Seat in the just concluded National Assembly election.
Justice Ashi gave the restraining order in a short ruling on an ex parte motion filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
Akpabio in the suit No: FCT/HC/M/2680/19 and filed on February 28 prayed the court for, “An order granting leave to him to apply for a judicial review for the issuance of a writ of Mandamus, prohibition, injunction and other declarative reliefs sought against the respondent (INEC).”
He also prayed the court to direct the respondent to stay further action “particularly further action in respect of issuance of certificate of return to any candidate in respect of the seat of senator representing Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial district on the account of election held on the 23rd February, 2019.”
The ex parte application which was supported by an affidavit deposed to by one Daniel Idoko, was argued by Akpabio’s lawyer, Sunday Ameh SAN.
In a short ruling Justice Ashi, held that the case of Akpabio is meritorious and that there is need to keep things in status quo.
“Leave is hereby granted to the applicant to apply for judicial review for the issuance of a writ of Mandamus, prohibition, injunction and other declaratory reliefs against the respondent.”
“Leave granted shall operate as stay of further action of the respondent and particularly in respect of issuance of certificate of return to any candidate in respect of the seat as sought by the applicant,” Justice Ashi held.
While adjourning the matter till March 8 for hearing of the substantive suit, the judge however directed that parties must first address him on the issue of jurisdiction on the next sitting.