30th March, 2011
Justice Abdul Kafarati of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has adjournedÂ till ThursdayÂ ruling on an applicationÂ by the Action Congress of Nigeria seeking for the setting aside of the courtâ€™s injunction delivered on the 17th of this month.Â The court thenÂ ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to recognize SenatorÂ Festus Bode Ola as the authentic candidate of the party for the Ekiti state Central Senatorial District in the forth coming National Assembly election scheduled to hold on Saturday 2nd April 2011.
The party was aghast that Senator Bode Ola, in a desperate bid to return to the National Assembly, after failing to persuade the party to make him the candidate for the Ekiti Central district through a letter dated 17th January 2011, lied and misled the court into delivering the judgment knowing fully well that such attitude was unbecoming of a distinguished senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The senator had told the court that he won the indirect primaries for the nomination of a candidate for election into the Ekiti Central Senatorial district but failed to include Mr. Babafemi Ojudu whose name had been submitted to the electoral umpire by Action Congress of Nigeria as its candidate for the post as a party in the suit. Senator Ola exhibited purported results of the primary election which, contrary to his submission, did not emanate from INEC.
While moving the application for the setting aside of that judgment, the party through its counsel; Mr. Femi Falana, told the court that senator Ola and his former counsel, Mr. A. A. Williams, had misled the court into giving the judgment in an undeserving manner.Explaining the nature of the unethical attitude adopted by the desperate politician and his lawyer, Falana told the court that on the 16th of March when the matter first came up for hearing, that one Mr. Lanrewaju Bankole entered appearance for the party without the partyâ€™s knowledge and consent as the party had not been served the courtâ€™s processes as statutorily required.
The fiery lawyer told the court that the party was portrayed, by the senator and his colluding lawyers, as having been served the processes but deemed it unnecessary to file any counter affidavit which led the court to presume that the party had no defense to the issues raised by the senator in his originating summons which it consequently resolved in the senatorâ€™s favour in the judgment which the court delivered on the 17th of March.
Falana called on the court to behave like Pontius Pilate and wash its hands off the chain of illegality by setting aside the judgment obtained through illegal means. He further urged the court to recommend the senator and his lawyers to the appropriate authority for investigation, especially in the face of the position of the electoral umpire that documents relied upon by the senator to support his case were forged. He relied on Order 8 Rule 9 of the civil procedure Rules of the Federal High Court which deals with judgment in default in appearance in urging the court to set it judgment aside.Senator Bode Ola, through a new set of lawyers led by Mr. Felix Eki and Mr. Olowo Okere opposed the application for the setting aside of the courtâ€™s judgment and argued that the judgment in question is the final decision of the court on the matter which the court cannot set aside.
They argued that Justice Kafarati cannot be invited to set on appeal on his own judgment as the Federal High Court is not an appellate court.According to Mr. Olowo Okere who made submissions on the senatorâ€™s behalf, the court cannot re open, revisit or re evaluate the case having delivered a final judgment.Justice Kafarati subsequently adjourned ruling till Thursday, 31st March.
By Nnamdi Felix /abuja