By Abdulaziz Salisu
Efforts by Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State to make a Federal High Court in Abuja to reject court processes filed against his nomination by the All Progressive Congress, APC, for the 2015 governorship election, have been dismissed.
The processes filed by Senator Umaru Dahiru and another governorship aspirant on the platform of APC were accepted by Justice Gabriel Kolawole as being competent and properly filed to challenge the nomination of the governor for the election of the 2015.
At the mention of the suit on Wednesday, the APC’s counsel, Jibrin Okutepa and Sundy Ameh, vehemently opposed the originating summon and the affidavit filed by Mr Dahiru to challenge the propriety of the 2015 APC Sokoto governorship primary election on the ground that the election was fraught with fraud, breach of electoral act and APC’s guidelines and also marred with violence.
The contention of APC and Mr Tambuwal’s Lawyers was that a new counsel and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Roland Otaro was not properly changed to replace Awa Kalu who they said was the counsel for the plaintiff on record.
Messrs Okutepa and Ameh insisted that for the two plaintiffs to properly change their lawyer, the leave of the court must first be obtained and secured in line with provision of the Federal High Court Practice Direction. They therefore urged the court to reject all the process filed by Mr Otaru on the ground that they are incompetent and unlawful for the court to adjudicate upon.
However, Mr Otaru in his submission informed Justice Kolawole that he announced his appearance as holding the brief of Awa Kalu, adding that his coming to the case was misconstrued as a change of lawyer by the counsel to the APC and Mr Tambuwal.
Mr Otaru urged the judge to reject the objection of Mr Tambuwal and APC’s counsels on the ground that the objection was baseless not competent, frivolous and vexatious.
The Senior Lawyer insisted that the objection raised against his appearance in the matter and the processes he filed are part of deliberate plan by Governor Tambuwal and APC to delay the hearing of the case. Adding that lawyers from Awa Kalu Chambers are with him and that there has been no objection to his appearance from Mr Kalu’s chamber.
However, in his ruling, Justice Kolawole recalled that the Supreme Court had in December 2016 directed that the case be giving accelerated hearing in the interest of Justice to both parties.
The judge held that since the originating summon filed by the two plaintiffs have not being heard, they did not need any leave of the court to file further process and therefore all process filed in relation to the suit are properly and legally filed as required by law.
Justice Kolawole agreed with Mr Otaru that he was holding the brief of Awa Kalu hence the objection of Mr Tambuwal and APC lacked merit and are baseless because the legal representation of the plaintiffs has not been changed.
The judge further said that it would be against the interest of Justice to reject the processes including further affidavit filed by the two plaintiffs against Mr Tambuwal because the process are properly filed and that the APC and the INEC have already replied to the originating summon and the further affidavit while only Mr Tambuwal choose not to file written address.
The judge therefore ordered Mr Tambuwal to file his written address within 14 days so as to properly join issues with the two plaintiffs who are challenging the legality of the primary election that produced him as governorship candidate of APC.
Mr Kolawole said that he is bound by the directive of the Supreme Court that the case must be heard expeditiously so as not to render the case of the two plaintiffs a mere academic and therefore ordered the plaintiffs to file their reaction on point of law to the written address of Mr Tambuwal within 7 days of being served.
Meanwhile hearing on the suit has been fixed for May 23.