By Andrew Onyejuruuwa
A Federal High Court Abuja sitting in Abuja has lifted its temporary ban stopping the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from continuing with the collation of governorship election results in Bauchi State. Bauchi is one of the troubled states where the result of the governorship election is being delayed for all sorts of reasons.
The court had entertained a suit filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Governor Mohammed Abubakar, asking the court to determine whether INEC has the powers to decide collation of results after the announcement of a suspension. Mr Abubakar’s lawyer, Ahmed Raji, had approached the court requesting among other things, an ex-parte application preventing INEC from proceeding with its decision to collate results in the state.
The Judge, Inyang Ekwo, said there was never a time his court granted the ex-parte application made by Mr Raji, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He said, what the court ordered following the earlier application was an order for parties to maintain the status quo pending the determination of the suit before him.
The court also said the submissions of Mr Raji that the tribunal could entertain an application emanating from an election matter, “only after a return has been made: is a temporary situation that does not have the capacity to stand for long.” According to the judge: “the issue at hand happened during an election. And the complaint was also made as a result of an election, subsequently,” said Mr Ekwo. Subsequently the Mr Ekwo declined to give a pronouncement on the substantive matter and deferred his decision to allow the election tribunal make a pronouncement on the substantive matter.
The court however ruled that the order to maintain status quo earlier granted on the matter had been lifted. Thus allowing the INEC the freedom to proceed with its decision made public on March 15, 2019. INEC had on that date announced its resolve to proceed with the collation of results after previously declaring the Bauchi election inconclusive. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the previous election, as well as the supplementary election conducted on March 23. INEC could however not formally declare the PDP winner because of the court action.