* Fixes August 19 for accelerated hearing
By Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Friday ordered parties in the suit challenging the adoption of the indirect voting mode in selecting candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the November 16 governorship election to maintain the status quo pending the hearing and determination of the main suit.
Justice Taiwo, who made the order while delivering ruling on the exparte application filed by four aggrieved members of the APC in Kogi State, held that it would be better to hear and determine the main suit rather than granting the restraining order sought by the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs in the exparte motion marked: CS/833/19, had asked the court to restrain the party from adopting the indirect voting mode of selecting its candidate for the November 16 governorship election.
The plaintiffs, who are members of the State Executive Committee as well as delegates in the primary election slated for August 29, predicated their actions on the grounds that the indirect system of voting if allowed would not provide a fair and level playing field for all participants.
The plaintiffs include Destiny Aromeh, Isa Abubakar, Noah Aku and Joy Onu, first to fourth plaintiffs respectively, while the APC is the defendant in the case.
The plaintiffs, who are said to be members of Haddy Ametuo-led faction of the party, expressed the need for the party to respect court processes and halt any action on the proposed indirect primary.
They urged the court to determine whether the APC can adopt the indirect system of voting in the primary with regards to the pendency of the suit filed by Haddy Ametuo, Salam Adejoh (suing for themselves and on behalf of other members) of the SEC elected on May 19, 2018, the APC can adopt the indirect primary mode.
However, delivering ruling on Friday, Justice Taiwo said: “In view of the urgency of the suit, it will be better to give accelerated hearing than to grant the injunction sought by the plaintiffs.
“In the interest of justice, I will abridge to 10 days the period required for parties to file their responses.”
Justice Taiwo held that parties are to maintain the status quo in order not to foist a fait accompli on the court by the defendant.
He accordingly adjourned till August 19 for hearing of the substantive suit, adding that all processes including preliminary objection, counter affidavit and replies must be turned in before the hearing date.
Meanwhile, the APC through its lawyer, Damian Dodo (SAN), has asked the court to strike out and or dismiss the plaintiffs’ suit filed on July 18, 2019 for want of jurisdiction.
The request, which was contained in a Notice of Preliminary Objection was predicated on seven grounds and supported by a five-paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Reuben Harbooson, a litigation clerk in the chambers of D. D. Dodo and Co, counsel to the defenfant/applicant.
The objection, according to Dodo, was brought pursuant to order 26 rule 1 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) rules 2019 and under the inherent powers of the court and was filed on August 9, 2019.
The defendant submitted that the dispute as to the appropriate mode for the conduct of a political party’s primary election is an internal decision of a political party over which the court lacks jurisdiction to interfere with.
“The plaintiffs are not parties to suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/581/2018 between Haddy Audu Ametuo and 1 other vs All Progressives Congress and 2 others, which they hinge the suit on.
“The plaintiffs do not have the requisite locus standi to commence and maintain the suit.
“The present suit is incompetent and rids the court of the requisite jurisdiction to entertain the suit”.
The defendant therefore prayed the court for an order granting it leave to raise a preliminary objection to the competence of the instant suit and another order of, “this court striking out/dismissing the plaintiffs’ suit filed on July 18, 2019, for want of jurisdiction.
“And for such further order or orders as the court may deem fit to make in the circumstances”.