Court orders indefinite postponement of Adamawa supplementary governorship polls

INEC: File photo of voters at the elections
File photo of voters at the elections

A state high court in Yola has ordered the indefinite postponement of the governorship supplementary polls in Adamawa State slated for Saturday.

The judge, Abdul-azeez Waziri, said the polls should be put on hold until he rules on an application for an interlocutory injunction barring the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from conducting the polls.

The judge then adjourned the matter to Tuesday to give the ruling.

A political party, the Movement for Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD) and its supposed candidate, Eric Theman, had asked the court to cancel the election on the grounds that the party’s logo is not on the ballot paper.

Appearing for the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ahmadu Fintiri, in the matter, Joseph Gadzama, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) leading eight other counsel, had filed a motion for Mr Fintiri to be joined in the suit.

Counsel to the PDP, Okechukwu Udeze (SAN) leading six others, also applied for PDP to be joined in the suit.

Adeyemi Pitan, counsel to MRDD and Eric Theman, however, opposed the motion of the two parties on grounds that the two applications were not served on him in due time.

The MRDD counsel said the only business of the court for the day was the March 14 application for an interlocutory injunction to stop the supplementary election, not the hearing of any motion.

Lead counsel to INEC, Tanimu Inuwa (SAN), however, prayed the court to discharge the injunction on grounds that it has no jurisdiction to entertain the case.

He cited section 25 subsection 1 of the Constitution, saying that “INEC being a federal organ, challenging its decision should be through a federal high court not a state high court.”

Mr Inuwa said the issues being canvassed before the court touched on the conduct of elections and that section 285 subsection 2 of the Constitution places conduct of an election in the purview of election tribunals.

He said that MRDD has no locus standi to approach the court because it has not fulfilled all the electoral process, adding that it has no interest in the case.

Adjourning the case to March 26, Justice Waziri ruled that he needed time to study the voluminous documents submitted by the counsel to the various parties.

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Background

The Adamawa governorship election was declared inconclusive by the electoral commission because the margin of victory was less than the cancelled votes in the state. Before the decision, Mr Fintiri of the PDP was leading his closest challenger, incumbent governor Umar Bindow of the All Progressives Congress.

The supplemntary election for Adawama was to be held on Saturday, alongside those of five other states. Should INEC abide by the court ruling, then the election in Adamawa would be postponed.

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