By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
Justice Inyang Ekwo has restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) from proceeding with its planned collation and announcement of the results of the governorship election in Bauchi State held on March 9.
The judge held that the restraining order will subsists pending the determination of the suit brought before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, by the plaintiffs.
The election had earlier been declared inconclusive by INEC due to incidents in Tafawa Balewa local government.
According to the commission, the supplementary election had been cancelled based on a report by a committee headed by one of its national commissioners, Festus Okoye.
The Plaintiffs, All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Bauchi State Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, approached the court with an ex-parte motion, asking for an order of interim injunction, restraining INEC from resuming, concluding or announcing the result of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State in respect of the governorship election.
However, the trial judge, ordered the two parties to appear before him for accelerated hearing in the matter with effect from March 20, 2019.
At the last adjourned date (Monday)Justice Ekwo, ordered INEC to appear before the court yesterday(Tuesday)to show cause why the order sought by the plaintiffs should not to be granted.
However, when the matter came up yesterday, counsel to INEC, Tanimu Inuwa, approached the court with an oral application challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter.
In his reaction, counsel to the Plaintiff, Ahmed Raji SAN, objected the application of want of jurisdiction.
Raji argued that the order issued on Monday asking the electoral body to show cause why the requests of the plaintiffs should not be granted, had not been obeyed by INEC.
Responding, Inuwa admitted that the order had not been complied with but pleaded with the court to be allowed to address the court orally on the issue.
Delivering the ruling, Justice Ekwo refused to heed to the plea. The court held that since the ex-parte application was in writing and duly served on INEC, it was necessary for the defendant to also appear before the court with a written or formal response.
Consequently, the judge granted the interim injunction restraining INEC from resuming, concluding and announcing the governorship election result in the state pending the determination of all issues raised by the plaintiffs in their originating summons.