The judge handling the alleged certificate forgery suit instituted against Governor Jibrilla Bindow of Adamawa has recused himself.
Abdulaziz Anka announced his withdrawal from the case “on personal grounds” saying he would return the case file to the chief judge of the Federal High Court for re-assignment to another judge.
Governor Bindow was alleged to have forged his secondary school certificate, prompting a rights group, Global Crusade Integrity Network (GICN) to file a case against him before an Abuja Federal High Court in September last year.
Had the move by the group to get the governor indicted succeeded, one of President Muhammadu Buhari’s in-laws, popularly known as Modi, would have been the major beneficiary having emerged the first runner-up in the disputed All Progressive Congress primaries in the state.
The case was initially filed before an Abuja Federal High Court presided by B. O Kadri who granted the plaintiff’s plea for accelerated hearing in October last year.
The case was subsequently transferred to Yola where the first respondent resides.
Mr Anka’s decision to jettison the case rattled many in the court especially Modi’s supporters who thought the sitting will disrupt Mr Bindow’s hope for a second term.
“Justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done,” Mr Anka said, reiterating that after hearing from the counsels and reviewing “what had become apparent, he was uncomfortable about continuing with the case”.
Reacting to the withdrawal, the counsel to Governor Bindow, Chris Uche, said his client is ready to “follow the case to anywhere it may be taken”.
“As we said in the open court, we are ready for the hearing in the case to continue, but the judge recused himself from the case and it is being sent back to Abuja. Wherever they take us, we will go,” he said.
He said the case lacked merit and “had no chance of going far”.
“From when this case was first filed in Abuja, we raised the objection that the plaintiff (GICN) is an artificial person who has no locus standi to institute the case.
“The plaintiff was not an aspirant and is not a citizen of Adamawa State and has no business challenging Bindow as the candidate of the APC for the forthcoming election,” he added.
The counsel to GICN, Edward Omaga, appeared unperturbed.
He said the network is an advocacy group duly registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to carry out its functions “for or against persons and organisations anywhere across the country”, and could therefore not be said to lack locus standi in the suit against the governor.