A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, refused to go ahead with its judgment in a suit filed by Mr Akanimo Udofia against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Justice Emeka Nwite, in a ruling, held that Sen. Ita Enang was an affected party in the suit, hence, the need to join him so that the court could effectively determine the matter
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Enang, a former Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, had filed a motion, seeking to be joined in the suit filed by Mr Udofia against INEC.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) and Udofia had sued INEC as the sole defendant in the matter.
Udofia, a factional governorship candidate of the APC, is seeking an order compelling INEC to accept his name as governorship candidate for Akwa Ibom 2023 poll.
He is also asking for an order directing the commission to publish his name as forwarded by the party to it.
The plaintiffs had, in the suit, argued that INEC cannot refuse to publish the name of a person sent to it as the candidate of a political party.
The court after listening to parties in the suit had fixed Oct 6 for judgment.
But the appearance of Enang in court forced the judge to halt the delivery of the judgment.
The ex-lawmaker drew the attention of the court to his presence as a party seeking to be joined in the matter.
Enang brought a motion on notice marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1290/22 dated and filed on Oct 12 after the court granted his oral application.
He argued that he would be prejudiced if the court delivered its judgment without hearing him out.
In the affidavit in support of the motion for joinder, Enang averred that he contested in the APC Akwa Ibom governorship election of May 26, alongside with the 2nd plaintiff (Udofia) and others.
He prayed the court to join him as a party in the case because he was the appropriate person who contested and won in the election.
Enang, who alleged that Udofia was not an APC member as at the time the poll was conducted, said he (Udofia) contested in the PDP governorship primary election held on May 25 before coming to contest the APC primary on May 26.
He argued that the intention of the plaintiffs is to obtained judgment behind his back, having refused to serve him with the court processes knowing that he is a necessary party for the just determination of this suit.
He also informed that Udofia filed the suit despite a similar matter which had been reserved for judgment in Uyo division of the court.
He told Justice Nwite that he had set out the prayers in Abuja and Uyo courts clearly in his points of law filed to make it easier for the court to determine that the two matters are similar.
But Udofia, through his lawyer, argued that Enang’s application was to cause a drawback in the determination of the matter, urging the court to discountenance Enang’s submission and go ahead to deliver its judgment.
Justice Nwite had fixed today for a ruling on the motion
NAN also reports that Justice Agatha Okeke of Uyo division of the FHC had, on Nov. 14 in a judgement, disqualified Udofia as the APC governorship candidate for the 2023 poll in a suit filed by Enang.
The judge, who ruled that Udofia was never a member of APC, ordered that a fresh election be conducted within 14 days from the day of the judgement.
Okeke also barred Udofia from participating in the election.
Meanwhile, delivering his ruling on Tuesday, Justice Nwite agreed with Enang that he was a necessary and appropriate party to be joined for effective determination of the case
Nwite held that Udofia’s reliefs cannot be granted following the judgment delivered by a sister court in Uyo.
The judge further said that Udofia’s name cannot be sent to INEC by the party on the ground that there was a suit pending at the FHC Uyo, which had now been determined.
He then adjourned the matter until Jan. 19 for hearing.(NAN)