By Patrick Obia
Documents obtained by CrossRiverWatch suggests that Justice Simon Amobeda of the Calabar division of the Federal High Court has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to publish the name of Dr. Stephen Odey as the validly nominated candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the October 31 senatorial by-election in northern Cross River.
INEC had last week published details of candidates for about nine political parties with that of PDP left blank following a court order in suit number FHC/PH/CS/137/2020 filed by Hon. Jarigbe Agom who had approached the vacation court of the Federal High Court in PortHarcourt to obtain an order restraining the commission from publishing any other name asides his as the candidate of the party.
The chaotic September 5, 2020 primaries of the PDP which led to deaths and injuries had thrown forth two candidates with Mr. Odey emerging from the pro Governor Ben Ayade’s camp while Mr. Agom emerging from the pro Team Authentic camp led by all but one of the PDP National Assembly members from the State.
And, the court order obtained by CrossRiverWatch show that despite being on vacation, Justice Simon Amobeda listened to a Moton Ex Parte brought before him on Monday.
The Federal High Court proceeded on its annual vacation on July 27, 2020 and will resume on September 28, 2020. Justice Amobeda’s court was not listed as a vacation court.
Only three divisions were left operational, Lagos, Abuja and PortHarcourt where Mr. Agom had approached with his motion exparte.
But, the court order showed that Justice Amobeda’s ruling of September 21 in suit number FHC/CA/CS/86/2020 was dated September 18, and filed September 21, which is within the period his court was on vacation.
INEC and PDP were listed as first and second defendant’s in the suit.
“1. That the time within which the Plaintift/Applicant’s pending applications and Substantve suit may be heard by this Honourable Court is hereby abridged to 14 days from the date of service of the processes herein on the Defendants, having regard to the fact that the bye-election forming the subject matter of this action is fixed for 31 October, 2020, which is a period of just about five (5) weeks from now.
“2. That the 1st Defendant/Respondent (INEC) either by itself, Chairman, Legal Adviser, Directors, Commissioners, privies or through any person or persons whosoever and howsoever shall publish, with immediate effect, the name of the Plaintiff/Applicant as the duly nominated candidate of the 2nd Defendant to contest the bye-election into the Cross River North Senatorial District scheduled to hold on 31st October, 2020, pending the hearing and determination of the Moton on Notice.
“3. That parties shall be served with the Order of this Court made today and all the processes for them to show cause why the Order as granted today should be set aside. The matter is adjourned to 5/10/2020 for hearing of the substantive suit.”
When contacted, Mr. Agom responded with a short message that read: “this Judge acted arbitrarily. The Court is on Vacation.”
Meanwhile, the window for substitution of candidates issues by INEC may close soon.
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