By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja
The All Progressive Congress APC has raised strong opposition to the speedy hearing of a suit seeking disqualification of its governorship candidate Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu from the September 19, Edo state governorship election.
APC in a strongly worded petition against Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja prayed the Chief Judge of the Court, Justice John Tsoho to withdraw the suit from Justice Taiwo.
In the petition dated August 20,/2020 by the National Secretary of the Caretaker Committee, Senator.John Akpanudoedehe, the party accused Justice Taiwo of moving faster in the hearing of suit against Ize-Iyamu by granting abridgment of time to plaintiffs in the matter when motion for same had not been moved.
APC alleged that from its findings, Justice Taiwo has a close relationship with Rivers State Governor, Mr Nyesom Wike, the Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party PDP Campaign Council in the Edo gubernatorial poll.
The party alleged further that Governor Wike had openly boasted that he would do everything humanly possible to ensure that PDP win the poll by influencing the disqualification of Ize-Iyamu through the court.
APC specifically alleged that on August 10, Justice Taiwo suo motu abridged the time allowed by law for the defendants to respond to an issue even when they (defendants) have not been served with the originating summons by fixing the matter for August 24 when motion on notice for abridgment of time had not been moved by plaintiffs.
“That even when the Hon court granted exparte order for substituted service of the processes in suit no. FHC/ABJ/CS/839/2020, the story all over Edo is that the APC.candidate Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu has been disqualified by Justice Taiwo Taiwo
“That the APC is worried that they have no chance of getting Justice before Justice Taiwo Taiwo on account of his affinity to governor Wike and the anxiety demonstrated by abridging the time for defendants to file processes when the motion to do so was still pending and some defendants had not been served with the originating summons “
However when the matter came up on Monday, counsel to Ize-Iyamu, Mr Roland Otaru San and that of APC, Ehiogie West-Idahosa, drew the attention of Justice Taiwo to the petition and asked him to suspend proceedings when the chief judge will give directive on the petition.
Justice Taiwo, however, told them to leave the petition for the CJ to treat being an administrative matter, adding that the new practice direction does not permit him to simply hands off from the matter.
When pressed further by Otaru that he must stay proceedings in view of the petition, Justice Taiwo drew the attention of the senior lawyer to the new National Judicial Council (NJC) directive to the effect that in a pre-election matter, no judge shall stop proceedings until otherwise directed by the council.
When the attempt to halt proceedings proved abortive, defendants in the matter applied for adjournment to enable them react to issues raised in the suit and to also allow the plaintiffs move a motion on notice for the matter to be heard during vacation.
The plaintiffs, led by Hon. Momoh Abdul-Razak had through their lawyer, Sir Friday Nwosu, sued the APC, Ize-Iyamu, INEC and Audu Ganiyu praying for an order of court to stop Ize-Iyamu’s participation in the election on account of alleged ineligibility.
Meanwhile, the matter has been adjourned till September 3 for hearing of pending motions.
APC Opposes Swift Hearing of Suit Against Ize-Iyamu, Petitions Judge, Seeks Suit Transfer.
By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja