The order was made by Justice Donatus Okorowo in response to an ex-parte……
By Isa Mustapha
On Monday, a Federal High Court in Abuja issued an order to halt the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from prosecuting the suspended Adamawa Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Hudu Yunusa-Ari. The case relates to Yunusa-Ari’s declaration of Aisha Dahiru, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, as the governor during the March 18 poll.
The order was made by Justice Donatus Okorowo in response to an ex-parte motion presented by Mr. Michael Aondoaka, who is representing Dahiru. In the motion, which was marked as FHC/ABJ/CS/935/2023, the APC candidate sued INEC, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), and another party as respondents.
Aondoaka argued during the motion that the prosecution of Yunusa-Ari could not be considered valid until the election petition tribunal decides the fate of his client, as stipulated by Section 149 of the Electoral Act, 2022. He further stated that INEC’s decision to take legal action against any person involved in Dahiru’s declaration as the winner of the supplementary poll in the state, while the tribunal is still considering her petition, would violate Section 285(6) of the law. This section provides a 180-day period for the resolution of petitions, which Dahiru’s petition filed on May 6 falls under.
The senior lawyer informed the court that a similar suit had been previously filed before Justice Inyang Ekwo, seeking a judicial review of INEC’s actions. However, the sister court directed Binani to approach the tribunal with her suit since it pertained to an election-related matter.
Aondoaka assured the court that an undertaking had been signed to demonstrate that the current suit was not frivolous. He stated that they were prepared to bear any costs should the court determine the case to be frivolous.
After hearing Aondoaka’s arguments, Justice Okorowo ordered the parties involved to maintain the status quo ante bellum (the state existing before the dispute) until the matter is heard and resolved. The judge adjourned the case until July 18 for a hearing and instructed the respondents to provide reasons why the reliefs sought by Dahiru, also known as “Binani,” should not be granted.