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ABIA PDP GUBER CANDIDACY: COURT GIVES PARTIES 7 DAYS TO FILE BRIEFS

By NBF News
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The Court of Appeal has given all parties in the legal battle to unseat Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji seven days to file and exchange all necessary processes in the appeal before the next adjourned date of June 13 and 14.

Proceedings was halted after it discovered that the brief of arguments filed by the appellant contravened the provisions of Order 8, Rules (6) (a) of the Court of Appeal Act which came into effect in April this year considering its lengthy nature.

The new rule does not permit written briefs to exceed 30 pages. However, counsel to the appellant, Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), filed a 106- page brief, a development which the court frowned at. The said brief was consequently withdrawn and struck out by the court.

Given the development, the court directed all parties to file their abridged written addresses and exchanged same within the adjourned date.

The appeal was lodged by a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and governorship aspirant for Abia State, Chief Ikechi Emenike seeking to set aside the judgment of a Federal High Court which declared the Governor as the authentic candidate of the party for the governorship slot in the State for the general elections of April, 2011.

Efforts by Akintola to persuade the court to exercise its discretion in his favour failed as Justice Jimmy Bada insisted that the rules of the court must be complied with.

The lawyer had moved the court to consider the provisions of order 18 (6) (3) which he said gave the court the power to grant leave for briefs to exceed 30 pages.

Counsel to the PDP, Chief Olusola Oke had opposed the motion on the grounds that the appellant's brief was too voluminous and offended the provisions of Order 18 (6) (a) of the Court of Appeal.

Oke noted that the introduction to the brief alone covered 21 pages which was contrary to Order 18 (5) of the rules of the court and urged the court to direct the appellant to comply with the court rules.

Counsel to INEC, Ahmed Raji said ordinarily, he would not have opposed the motion in view of the neutral posture of the Commission but urged the court to direct the appellant to file an abridged brief. But counsel to Governor Orji said left the issue to the discretion of the court.

Before Monday's proceedings, the court had ordered accelerated hearing of the appeal, which the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had thrown its weight behind the appellant.

In a 15-grounds of appeal Emenike who emerged as the governorship candidate of the party in parallel primaries is praying the appellate court to set aside the judgment of Justice Gabriel Kolawole because it was erroneous and a miscarriage of justice.

When the appeal was mentioned at the last adjourned date, the court granted the application by the appellant for an accelerated hearing of the appeal whose subject matter had a life span.

Earlier, the application by Governor Orji for time, to file a supplementary record of appeal suffered a setback as the court ordered his counsel, Livi Uzoukwu (SAN) to file his brief of argument within 14 days.

The court however, said the Governor was at liberty to file a supplementary record of the appeal as he alleged that some vital pages in the record of appeal were missing.

Counsel to Emenike, Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) and Emeka Ngige (SAN) had urged the court to refuse the aplication to file a supplementary record of appeal on the ground that the Governor had flouted the provisons of Order 8, Rule 6 of the Court of Appeal which permits such an application to be filed within 15 days but not 30 days as is the case with the Governor.

Akintola had earlier moved an application seeking for an accelerated hearing and abridging the time of the respondents within which to file their brief of arguments.

Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Harilu Liman did not opposed the application.

The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) did not also oppose the application. INEC counsel, Olushola Oke however, said he needed to file a supplementary record of appeal to enable the party take a firm position on the subject matter.

But it was later discovered that the alleged missing pages in the record of appeal where not missing but contained in pages 15 to 16 of the record.

Justice Jimmy Bada who led the panel of Justices later adjourned the appeal to May 23, 2011 for definite hearing.