The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was barred from putting charges against suspended Adamawa Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Hudu Yunusa-Ari on Monday due to his declaration of Aisha Dahiru, an All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, as the winner of the March 18 election.
Following the ex-parte motion submitted in this regard by Mr Michael Aondoaka, SAN, counsel for Dahiru, Justice Donatus Okorowo issued the ruling.
In the ex-parte motion marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/935/2023, the APC candidate in the poll, sued INEC, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and another as respondents.
In his plea on Monday, Aondoaka contended that the prosecution of Yunusa-Ari could not be deemed legitimate until the election petition tribunal decided the destiny of his client in accordance with Section 149 of the Electoral Act, 2022.
While the tribunal was still deliberating on his client’s petition, he claimed that INEC’s decision to take legal action against anyone connected to Dahiru’s declaration as the winner of the state’s supplementary election on April 15 would deprive her of the 180-day deadline provided by Section 285(6) of the law for disposing of the petition she filed on May 6.
The senior attorney told the court that although a similar lawsuit had previously been brought before Justice Inyang Ekwo, where a judicial review of INEC’s actions was requested, the sister court had directed Binani to file her lawsuit with a tribunal because it was an election-related matter.
He said an undertaking had been signed to prove to the court that the present suit was not frivolous.
Should the court decide the case to be frivolous, he stated in the undertaking that they were prepared to bear any costs.
Justice Okorowo gave the parties the go-ahead to maintain the status ante bellum until the hearing and decision on the case, after hearing from Andoaka.
The judge ordered the defendants to provide justification as to why the reliefs requested by Dahiru, a.k.a. “Binani,” should not be granted before setting the matter for hearing on July 18.