Alex Enumah in Abuja
A Federal High Court in Abuja has issued an order suspending proceedings indefinitely in a case of alleged forgery involving the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) and one Williams Edobor, a chieftain of the party, had filed a suit against Obaseki, accusing him of forging the first degree certificate which he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to enable him contest the election.
At the last adjourned date, Obaseki through Ken Mozia, his counsel, had urged the court to adjourn the matter indefinitely, on the grounds that there is a pending application before the court of appeal.
In the appeal with suit number CA/ABJ/CV/1072/2020, filed before the appeal court in Abuja, Obaseki challenged the refusal of Ahmed Mohammed, judge of the federal high court, to expunge some paragraphs in APC reply to his affidavit.
The governor had also filed an application before the court appeal to stay proceedings of the trial court
But Akin Olujimi, APC counsel, urged the court to dismiss the motion on the grounds that it is a pre-election matter bound by time.
The senior counsel contended that the court has jurisdiction to proceed with the case as it has a life span of 180 days which would terminate on January 9, 2021.
“This court is bound to continue with the hearing since the suit is sui generis (its unique). Nothing shall be done to clog the smooth wheel of proceedings in a suit of this nature especially in line with fourth Alteration Act,” he said.
Olujimi said the appeal is interlocutory in nature and cannot stop proceedings if the court.
Delivering ruling yesterday, the judge said it would be inappropriate to proceed with the suit considering the application for stay pending at the Court of Appeal.
“What would be the meaning of the trial court’s action? The answer is not far fetched and that is it does not care about whatever decision the appellate court would take in relations to whether it grants stay of further proceedings or not,” the judge held.
“If eventually, the appellate court in its wisdom decides to stay further proceedings in the lower court and by that time, proceedings have been concluded at the lower court, the order of stay made would have been rendered worthless.
“While this uncertainty lasts, it is better and appropriate to tarry a while to allow the appellate court to carry out its jurisdiction on whether or not it should grant stay of further proceedings
“Furthermore, it is the law as established by both the court of appeal and the supreme court that where a lower court is aware of an application for stay of either execution or proceedings, it would be wrong to ignore such application and proceed to hear the suit.
“This court is not prepared to be on collision course with the court of appeal as far as this case or any case for that matter. This court is ready to abide by whatever directive the court of appeal would make or give this court including the order to conclude hearing this matter.
“This suit is hereby adjourned sine die to await the decision of the first defendant’s application for stay of further proceedings.”