Judge threatens to withdraw from sacked A’Ibom Senator’s case

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a Federal High Court, Abuja on Wednesday threatened to withdraw from a suit challenging the removal of Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, representing Akwa Ibom East Senatorial zone.

Akpan’s election was nullified on the 27th of February 2017, and consequently sacked from the Senate by a Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, while the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was ordered to issue certificate of return to Bassey Etim as winner of the National Assembly election held in the state.

Dissatisfied by the judgment, Akpan approached the Federal High Court, Abuja with an ex parte application seeking interim preservatory orders against INEC, the President of the Senate; Clerk of the National Assembly and Clerk of the Senate are 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants respectively.

The court however ordered that, “the defendants/respondents shall appear on the 8th of March 2017 to show cause why the interim preservatory orders as sought by the plaintiff/applicant should not be granted”.

But at yesterday’s proceedings, the presiding judge, Justice Dimgba expressed dismay over a publication disparaging his person and insinuating personal interest following the conduct of proceedings on the 8th of March, 2017.

Reacting, after Senator Akpan’s lawyer, and those of INEC and Bassey Etim denied knowledge of the said publication, Justice Dimgba said, “I deny all insinuations of what transpired on March 8th, 2017.

“This matter is adjourned to March 24, 2017. But in the event of further resolution on the said publication, I may decide to disqualify myself from hearing of the suit and hand over the case file to the Chief Judge to reassign it, Justice Dimgba stated.

Recall that the plaintiff/applicant, Senator Bassey Albert Akpan had on March 3, 2017 sought an ex parte “order of interim injunction restraining the 1st defendant/respondent (INEC) from regarding the actions taken by it relating the Senatorial election in Akwa Ibom East as nullity, treating the certificate of returns issued to the plaintiff/applicant in respect of that election as a nullity and/or issuing any certificate of return to any other person to replace the plaintiff/applicant merely on the basis of the judgment of this court delivered on February 27, 2017 in suit No. FHC/UY/CS/1087/2015 whilst the plaintiff/applicant pursues his appeal validly filed within time against the said judgment of this Honourable Court and seek its stay of execution, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

“An order of interim injunction restraining the 2nd to 4th defendants/respondents from in any manner whatsoever debarring the plaintiff/applicant from his duties as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or from access to facilities due to his office in the National Assembly merely because of adverse judgment against him delivered on the 27th February, 2017 in suit No.FHC/UY/CS/1087/2015 whilst the   plaintiff/applicant pursues his appeal validly filed within time against the said judgment of this Honourable Court and seek it’s stay of execution, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

At a resumed hearing of the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/157/2017, Richard Oluyede, counsel to Senator Akpan informed the court that the action was not a rehash of the judgment of the Federal High Court Uyo, one anchored on the provisions of Section 143 of the Electoral Act and Section 66 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

Oluyede insisted that the matter basically seeks to know, based on Section 143 of the Electoral Act if a person in a pre-election matter removed from office can be removed while an appeal has been validly entered.

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