Court gives May 3 date for final address ahead of ruling on case against Akpabio's election

A Federal High Court in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) presided over by Justice Abdul Kafarati today adjoined sitting till May 3, 2012 to enable parties in the suit against the election of Godswill Akpabio as governor of Akwa Ibom state present their final addresses for adoption ahead of ruling.
Before adjoining, the presiding judge, Justice Kafarati ruled that the application filed by Imo Udo, one of the contestants in the primaries that threw up Mr. Akpabio as candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the controversial election, lacked merit, and consequently dismissed.
The case against Mr. Akpabio’s election was brought before the court by Frank Okon, with the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as co-defendants, to protest his alleged wrongful exclusion from the party primaries in which the governor was selected as the party flag bearer.
But, curiously, months after Mr. Okon’s suit had commenced, Mr. Udo was to appear in court recently with an application seeking the permission of the court to be allowed to join as an interested party in the case co-defendant.
Mr. Udo, who later withdrew the application after it became obvious that it stood no chance of succeeding, was to re-file the application seeking to be allowed to join Mr. Okon as co-plaintiff.
But, after listening to the submissions of Laso Sanusi, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who is the lead Counsel to the plaintiff; Paul Usoro, SAN, lead counsel to Mr. Akpabio; Olusola Oke (SAN), lead counsel to PDP, and Ahmed Raji, SAN, lead counsel for INEC, Mr. Udo’s application, which was argued by OEN Akaiso, was thrown out.
In giving his ruling, Justice Kafarati dismissed the application as lacking in merit, describing the applicant as “an idle interloper and a confused man, who seems not to know what he is looking for.”
The judge in delivering his ruling on Mr. Udo’s application had described the applicant as an idle interloper and a confused man, who seems not to know what he is looking for.”
He said Mr. Udo had initially filed an application to join as a defendant on the side of the PDP, INEC and Godswill Akpabio, and when that application was opposed, he made a volte face, withdrew the application, only file a similar application, this time, asking to join the case as a plaintiff on the side of Mr. Okon.
According to learned judge: “The law is clear. For one to join in a case, one must have a similar or identical interest.”
 In his application filed with the court, Mr. Udo admitted that he participated fully in the primaries, which is the issue in contention, while Mr. Okon is saying he was unlawfully excluded from participating from the same primaries. Consequently, the judge argued that the two interests are not, and cannot be the same, and therefore Mr. Udo cannot be joined as plaintiff.
Meanwhile, the adoption of the final address presentation by all the parties in the case, which was supposed to have taken place today, was postponed to the adjoined date of May 3, because the because PDP and INEC filed their response papers late, with the plaintiff’s legal team saved today in court.
The adoption of written final addresses by the parties is expected to be the final phase of the legal tussle, to pave the way for the court to set aside a date for the delivery of final judgment.
“We are one step to the finish line for the case to come to an end,” Andem Ndem, a member of the plaintiff’s legal team said at the end of the court session today. “After May 3, the High Court would take a date for judgment, and that would be it.”

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