* Adjourns till October 19
By Alex Enumah
Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Wednesday declined to entertain the suit challenging the dissolution of the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) during the court’s vacation period.
Justice Taiwo, who refused to take the matter during the court vacation, said that the suit is not a pre-election matter that must be heard within a particular time frame.
A Youth Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abia State, Kalu Kalu, had dragged the National Executive Council (NEC) to court over the sack of the NWC barely two years in office.
In the suit with number: FHC/ABJ/ CS/736/2020, the plaintiff asked for an order of the Federal High Court, Abuja, setting aside the dissolution of the NWC by APC’s NEC meeting held at the Presidential Villa in June this year.
Meanwhile, the plaintiff had asked the court to order the continuing hearing of the substantive suit during the ongoing vacation of the Federal High Court.
Kalu also pleaded with the court for another order abridging the time within which the 14 respondents are to file and serve jointly or severally their counter affidavit and other processes in response to the suit.
Delivering ruling in the application, however, the judge held that it does not fall under the contemplation of Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution that mandates the court to hear and conclude a pre-election matter within 180 days.
The court also noted that it was not filed by an aspirant seeking nomination for an election or political party seeking to participate in an election.
“In the instant case, I have noted the submissions of counsel and I have also looked at the facts in the suit to determine whether it is a pre-election matter or not as contemplated by section 285 and have come to the conclusion that this matter is not a pre-election matter, no matter how it is titled or dressed by the applicant.
“The position of the law as in section 285(14) and as it relates to pre-election suit is clear and not ambiguous and should be given their ordinary meaning and as such this matter is not qualified as a pre-election matter and not time bound by any law,” he said.
Besides, Justice Taiwo further said that the APC chieftain, who instituted the suit, has not shown how he will be denied fair hearing if the matter is not heard during vacation.
“In conclusion, I agree with Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), counsel for 3rd to 14th respondents that this suit is not targeted at any particular election and this application is hereby refused and dismissed,” the court held before adjourning to October 19 for hearing in the substantive matter.
The plaintiff in the substantive suit is praying the court for an order restraining the National Caretaker Committee members led by Buni from parading themselves as national officers of the APC and from usurping the functions of the party’s NWC.
The respondents in the case are INEC, APC, Governor Mai Mala Buni, Isiaka Oyebola, Ken Nnamani, Stella Okorete, Governor Sani Bello, Dr James Lalu, Senator Abubakar Yusuf, Hon. Akinyemi Olaide, David Leon, Prof. Mamman, Isiaka Ahmed and Senator Akpan Udoedehe.