By Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday adjourned till March 28 hearing in a suit seeking to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from proceeding with the collation, conclusion and announcement of results in the March 9, Governorship and House of Assembly election in Rivers State.
Justice Ekwo had last Friday after refusing the request of the African Action Congress (AAC), Biokpomabo Awara and Ben-Gurion Peter, to stop the collation of results of Rivers State Governorship and House of Assembly election, adjourned till Monday for hearing of both the exparte application and the main suit of the plaintiffs.
Respondents in the two suits are the INEC and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In his ruling on the exparte motion last week, Justice Ekwo declined to grant the prayers of the applicants on the grounds that the court must have to hear from the respondents before taking a decision.
The reliefs sought by the applicants are such that the court cannot grant without hearing from the other party,” he had ruled.
He consequently ordered the plaintiffs to put the respondents on notice to come and show cause why the prayers of the plaintiffs should not be granted.
However, when the matter was mentioned on Monday, the court held that the exparte application has been overtaken by event, adding that both parties were in court.
He accordingly adjourned till March 28, for hearing of the main suit and ordered parties to regularise their processes in the suit.
INEC had two weeks ago fixed Wednesday, March 20, for the resumption of collation, conclusion and announcement of the remaining results in the election.
The electoral body had suspended the electoral process after some military personnel and armed men invaded its collation centre in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
After it suspended the process, INEC then constituted a fact-finding committee to look into the issue and advised accordingly.
Following the report of the fact finding committee, INEC then announced that it would resume collation of the results in Rivers State, adding that it has in its custody results already collated and announced from 17 local governments areas.
This prompted the plaintiffs to approach the court for an order to stop INEC from resuming collation of the election results.
The plaintiffs represented by Tawo Tawo (SAN), had in their originating summons prayed the court to stop INEC from resuming, collating and concluding the March 9 election results in Rivers State and from declaring any person or group as winners of the poll.
The plaintiffs specifically applied for an order compelling the electoral body to maintain the inconclusiveness of the election as announced earlier.
However, two other sister suits on the Rivers governorship election was adjourned to same date for hearing.