Court Fines Kola Abiola for Late Submission of Documents
Alex Enumah in Abuja
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has slammed the presidential candidate of the People’s Redemption Party (APC), Kola Abiola, with a fine of N20,000 for his failure to file his court documents within time.
Justice Fadima Aminu, in a ruling, also fined the PRP for its delay in filing its counter affidavit in opposition to the aggrieved presidential aspirant’s amended originating summons.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that Justice Aminu had fixed November 25 for a definite hearing in a suit filed by Madam Patience Ndidi Key, a female presidential aspirant in the June 5 primary election conducted by the party.
The judge, who granted the application filed by Madam Key to amend her originating summons on November 18, ordered all parties to file their processes before the next adjourned date and adjourned to Friday for a definite hearing.
The plaintiff, Key had on June 28, sued PRP, the Independent National Electoral Commission and Mr. Latifu Abiola as 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants, respectively.
Key, in her earlier originating summons marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1001/2022, had challenged the emergence of Abiola as the party’s presidential candidate.
She had prayed to the court to nullify the poll that produced Abiola as the PRP’s presidential candidate.
She also prayed for an order setting aside the declaration of Abiola as the winner of the primaries conducted across the country.
Upon resumed hearing in the matter, the plaintiff’s counsel, Magnus Ihejirika, informed that the matter should be adjourned for a definite hearing.
Ihejirika said that the defence lawyers were yet to serve on him their counter-affidavits to enable him to respond appropriately.
Lawyer to the 1st defendant (PRP), Regina Audu, explained that there was a network failure on Thursday at the FHC filing office when she tried to file her application.
According to her, there was no network to generate a REMITA for us to pay the filing fee yesterday (Thursday) for our counter affidavit.
The lawyer, who said she could only do that on Friday, prayed to the court for an adjournment.
Also, Ijeoma Madu, who appeared for Mr. Abiola, spoke in the same vein.
But Ihejirika described the defence counsel’s act as “a deliberate attempt to stall proceedings in the suit.”
The lawyer said that the case was filed on June 28 and that, “time is of the essence in its determination.”
He said by provision of the constitution, the court had only 180 days to dispose of the matter, adding that the court has less than a month to have the case determined
He argued that the defendants were only employing a delay tactic to stall the hearing and determination of the suit.
Ihejirika, who told the court that he comes to the court from Kebbi State, said if the court would be inclined to grant the defence application, a cost should be imposed.
He asked for a cost of N200,000.
The defence counsel, who disagreed with him, prayed the court to dismiss the request.
In her ruling, Justice Aminu said an award of cost should not be a punishment but compensation.
The judge, consequently, ordered the PRP (1st defendant) and Abiola (3rd defendant) to pay the sum of N20,000 each to the plaintiff’s counsel.
She adjourned the matter until December 2 for a definite hearing.