By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
Justice Babatunde Quadri of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, yesterday, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), the All Progressives Congress, (APC) and the National Chairman, APC, not to conduct any congress in Imo state, until Aug. 21.
This order is coming following an application by the counsel to the plaintiffs, Mr Ahmed Raji, (SAN).
Consequently, the Plaintiffs who are Sen. Osita Izunaso, Sen. Ben Uwajimogu , Mr Mathew Omegara, Mr Hilary Ekeh and Mr Patrick Uzoukwu, were ordered to maintain status quo until Aug. 21 Arguing his motion, Raji prayed the court to order that all parties be restrained from conducting any primaries in the state, ward or local government until the next adjourned date of the suit.
He submitted that per adventure the defendants went ahead to conduct the primaries before the next adjourned date, the suit would become an academic exercise.
He reminded the court that the defendants pushed through with conducting congresses on July 20, even when they were duly served with an order of court stopping them from doing so.
According to Raji, the Plaintiffs, against this back drop, on July 23, filed a motion ex parte praying the court to set aside the purported congresses.
The plaintiffs, further asked the court for an order of injunction restraining APC and its chairman from recognising and swearing in those purportedly elected at the congresses.
“The court, however in its wisdom refused to grant this order and ordered us to put them on notice, and we did and duly served all processes on them but there has been no response from them.’’
Responding, counsel to the defendants, Mr Oladipo Okpeseyi, (SAN) told the court that he had just been briefed about the matter.
He told the court that all he could achieve today is to file a memorandum of conditional appearance.
Okpeseyi alluded to the fact that his clients had been unable to file the proper responses owing to the “political maneuvering” they had recently been faced with including the mass defection from the party.
“The executive members of the party have not been around so the best we could do is to file a memorandum of conditional appearance.
“We want to crave the indulgence of the court to give us more time within which to file our processes.’’
However, he prayed the court for an adjournment to enable him file the necessary processes.
Reacting to Okpeseyi’s plea, Raji disagreed with the defense reason for his inability to file his processes saying such reasons were not permissible in law.
He described it as an unusual and unheard-of oral application of the defendant.
He submitted that the move has no basis and should be rejected because the alleged defection he alluded to happened after they were served with processes.
In a short ruling, the vacation judge ordered all parties in the suit to maintain status quo and not conduct any primaries until the next adjourned date.
‘’All parties are restrained from conducting any primaries in the state, ward or local government until Aug. 21,” he held.
He awarded a cost of N10,000 against the defendants for not filing their processes within the stipulated time and adjourned the matter until Aug. 21 to allow the defendants regularize their processes.