A federal high court sitting in Abuja has ordered a service of hearing notice on the Independent National Electoral Commission over the exclusion of the African Action Congress and its candidate, Edith Isokpan, from the September 19 governorship election in Edo State.
The vacation judge, Justice A.R Muhammed, gave the order on Wednesday following a letter addressed to the court by lawyer to commission seeking for the adjournment of the matter because he was indisposed.
The judge granted the application for the adjournment by the defendant and ordered the court registrar to issue and serve a hearing notice on the commission in the suit.
Meanwhile, in his own submission, counsel to the applicant, Barr. O.A Otamere, had opposed the application for adjournment by the defendant considering the urgency of the matter.
He argued that the election had been slated for September 19, 2020 and there was need for accelerated hearing.
Otamere said, “Today, counsel to the defendant wrote a letter and applied for adjournment. We opposed the application considering the urgency of the matter but the court in its wisdom granted the application for adjournment for the fact that this matter was adjourned for mention.
“Considering that the election is holding on September 19, we have drawn the attention of his Lordship to that. However, by the relevant rules of court and practice direction, the court has 180 days to hear and determine pre-election matter and the court is working within that timeframe irrespective of the date the election has been so fixed.”
The judge therefore adjourned the matter to 15th September 2020 for hearing.
The Edo State Chairman of the party, Lawal Afeez, called on supporters of the AAC to remain calm, saying that justice can only be delayed but not denied.
He said, “To me, I see this as a delay tactics but we will continue to assure our supporters all over the world to remain calm as justice will be done.
“It can only be delayed but can never be denied. We are winning this election by the grace of God.”
Recall that INEC excluded AAC from political parties to contest the election in Edo even after the party had successfully conducted its primary election and produced Isokpan as its candidate.
The primary election, which was peaceful and orderly, was witnessed by INEC officials.
However, while releasing the list of parties approved to contest the election, INEC omitted AAC from the log without any concrete explanation.