From Ron Jacob, Jos
The Jos Federal High Court again adjourned the certificate forgery case involving a lawmaker in Plateau despite an order from the Chief Judge of the Federal High Courts for its accelerated hearing.
The case, being a 2015 pre-election matter, involved Mr Ibrahim Baba-Hassan, House of Assembly member representing Jos North Constituency, who is standing trial over alleged forging of a Diploma Certificate of the University of Jos.
Mr Abdul Saleh, the Plaintiff in the case, had challenged Baba-Hassan’s victory at All Progressives Congress (APC) 2015 primaries in court, on the ground that the lawmaker forged the Business Administration Diploma Certificate he presented to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to contest the elections.
Joined in the suit, are the APC and INEC as 2nd and 3rd defendants, which has generated a lot of protests from various groups within the Jos North Constituency with the latest being a petition to the Federal High Court CJ by Youths over what they described as the “court’s delay tactics.’’
A Court official had said that the CJ had queried the Presiding Judge, Justice Musa Kurya over the unnecessary delay in such a pre-election matter.
The official said that at the last sitting on Sept. 26, the judge had, in anger, adjourned the case sine die, which prompted the the Plaintiff Counsel, Mr David Ibdawuchi writing to the CJ, heaping the blame on the defendants ‘counsels who, he accused of always in the habit of asking for adjournments.
“It was at this stage that the CJ gave an order to the Judge for an accelerated hearing of the case,” the official further disclosed.
But when the case finally came up again on Wednesday for hearing, it again suffered another month adjournment following the absence of Mr Ledak Dafer, Counsel to APC, who was reportedly not served with the day’s hearing notice.
“My Lord, the Counsel to the 2nd defendant (APC), Mr Dafer, is not in court today simply because the court Registrar has his copy of the hearing notice, which could not be served on him by the bailiff, ’’ David Ibdawuchi had told the court.
“My Lord, we all know the position of the law on this. We can’t go on with the case without him because it will amount to not giving a fair hearing.
“In view of this, I shall be asking for a short adjournment date in the first week of November for the court to also ensure that all parties are served with hearing notices for us to come and continue with the matter, ’’ he pleaded.
But Mr Solomon Umoh, Counsel to Baba-Hassan, objected to the first week of November on the ground that he would be having some cases at the Supreme Court within the period and suggested Nov. 15 and 16.
It was at this stage that all counsels, including Counsel to INEC, Mrs F.N. Ibrahim, agreed on Nov. 15 and 16 as the next hearing dates.
Justice Kurya then adjourned the case to Nov. 15 and 16 for hearing and any other day they (Counsels) wish to continue with the matter.
The judge pledged to ensure that the matter gets accelerated hearing from that date onward.
“I am ready to suspend other cases from now to December just for this case to be done with, ’’ he pledged.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after the case, Ibdawuchi, who expressed his displeasure over the snail movement of the case, said he was optimistic that all parties would keep faith with the dates for its acceleration as expected.