APPEAL COURT RESERVES JUDGMENT IN PETITION TO STOP PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal has reserved judgment in a petition filed by the Peoples Mandate Party and its presidential candidate in the 2007 presidential election, Dr. Arthur Nwankwo, seeking to stop the forthcoming presidential elections.
The appellate court which sat with five justices led by Justice Muhammed Garba adjourned the petition for judgment after the lawyer to the petitioners, Nnabuike Edechime and lawyers to the respondents, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN and Kanu Agabi SAN.
The adjournment was sine dine as the court said it would communicate the date it would deliver the judgment to the lawyer,
The appeal was commenced by an application filed by the party on 18th January, 2011, Nwankwo and PMP, asking the Court for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining INEC, the Chief Electoral Officer at the 2007 presidential election, the Chief Returning Officer of the election and the Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) for the 36 states of the federation and Abuja, from conducting fresh presidential election in Nigeria in April 2011 or any other date.
They also asked the court to stop INEC from taking further steps whatsoever and howsoever towards the conduct of any such elections for the office of the president of Nigeria until their petition challenging the 2007 election of the late Umaru Yar'Adua and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan had been determined. The appellants further sought an order of interlocutory injunction restraining Jonathan from presenting himself or allowing himself to be presented to INEC as a candidate in any presidential election to be held in Nigeria on any date pending the determination of the petition.They asked the court to strike out the name of the late Umaru Yar'Adua from their petition.
At yesterday's proceedings, the court aceeded to their request and struck out Yar'Adua's name. Nwankwo and PMP also begged the court to hear their petition without further delay. Counsel to Yar'Adua and Jonathan, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN told the court to dismiss the petition. In his objection, Olanipekun said that the petitioners did not diligently prosecute their petition. While asking the court to reject the application for an interim injunction to stop the election, Olanipekun said the Amended Electoral Act forbade the court from granting an injunction to stop elections.
In the objection filed by INEC lawyer, Mr. Kanu Agabi, SAN, the commission asked the court to dismiss the petition because the petitioners had abandoned it. Agabi told the court that the reason the petitioners gave for failing to prosecute the case within the time frame was un acceptable. The commission gave four reasons for asking the court to dismiss the petition one of which was that neither the petitioners nor the respondents applied to the court to issue a pre-hearing notice.
INEC further argued that, 'It is mandatory that where neither the petitioners nor the respondents apply for a pre-hearing notice, the tribunal or court is under a duty to dismiss the petition as abandoned.'
The commission also argued that the court lacked the jurisdiction to issue the hearing notice.