A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Wednesday reversed its earlier ruling consolidating the two cases brought by two Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidates in Kogi state, Isa Echocho and Olabode Makinde, against the election of Idris Wada as governor of the state.
Justice Donatus Okorowa ruled in favour of Mr. Wada’s counsel, Chris Uche (SAN) who had brought an application for stay of proceeding arguing that he had filed a motion to appeal the earlier decision of the court which consolidated the two suits at the Court of Appeal.
Agreeing with Mr. Wada’s counsel, Justice Okorowa said there is the need to allow the Court of Appeal to determine whether or not the Federal High Court can consolidate the two cases before hearing on the substantive suits can continue.
Justice Okorowa had on 29th February this year decided to consolidate the two cases since, according to him, the cases are similar with very little difference in reliefs sought. He also said the court was consolidating the cases in order to accord them accelerated hearing.
However, Counsel to Mr. Wada rushed to the Appeal Court to challenge the decision of the court to consolidate the two cases and also filed for stay of proceedings.
Mr. Echocho’s lawyer, Wale Olanipekun (SAN), argued that a notice of appeal could not determine a stay of proceedings adding also that the applicant is only asking the Court of Appeal to re consolidate.
Mr. Olanipekun had also argued that even if an appeal for stay of proceedings succeeded, it would not terminate the proceedings at the lower court.
He equally argued that the applicant had not put sufficient material before the court to warrant granting of the application.
Speaking along the same line, counsel to Mr. Makinde, Alex Izinyon (SAN), agreed with the arguments of Mr. Olanipekun and said the circumstances surrounding the suits are different, in that the High court can continue hearing on the matter while the appeal is in process.
Mr. Izinyon had also argued that stay of proceedings was fundamental disruption on plaintiff from prosecuting its case while the applicant enjoyed the benefit of the office in dispute.
Ruling today however, Justice Okorowa decided to allow the stay of proceedings pending the determination of the appeal.