Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday refused to disqualify himself in the suit filed by Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over his certificate of return.
One of the defendants in the case, Senator Osita Izunaso, had petitioned the National Judicial Council (NJC), the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court over the conduct of Justice Abang. When the matter came up yesterday, the judge informed parties to the suit about the existence of a petition against him by Izunaso, asking him to disqualify himself from the case for another judge to take over.
He said: “At about 12:30 p.m., I received a petition that the third defendant wrote to the Chief Judge that the matter be re-assigned to another judge as he was not satisfied with the way I am conducting the case.“He made reference to several issues with legal authorities to back up his claim. It is my view that the petition was written by his lawyer and he merely signed it given the legal authorities cited.
“The law is settled that where a petition is written against a judge or court, it is the duty of the lawyer that wrote the petition to serve copies of the petition to other parties to the proceedings. “The proceedings of this court were conducted in the open and not in chambers in line with the law and rules of the court. There is nothing to hide in this matter. The third defendant ought to have served his petition to all parties to the suit.”
“This matter shall proceed,” Abang held.Hearing on the matter continues today.In another development, Eze Madumere has said that he still remains the Imo State Deputy Governor until May 29.
A statement yesterday by Madumere’s media aide, Uche Onwuchekwa, said: “The Office of the Deputy Governor of Imo State wishes to make it categorically clear that Eze Madumere is the deputy governor of Imo State and will only serve out his term of office on May 29, 2019 as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has withdrawn two certificates of return issued to two lawmakers in Kaduna House of Assembly, Haruna Aliyu and Ibrahim Ismail following court orders.
INEC had adhered to the directives and had issued certificate of return to Yusuf Salihu and Nasiru Usman as the winners of the 2019 Kaduna State House of Assembly election.