Court Fixes January 29 for Substantive Suit Challenging Legibility of Kebbi State Governor, Bagudu’s Candidacy

A Federal High Court, Abuja, has fixed January 29 for the hearing of the substantive suit challengeing eligibility of Atiku Bagudu as the governorship candidate of the All Progressivs Congress in the 2015 state governorship election.
The court gave the date while ruling on the objection raised by the defendant on the legality of unilatarily removal of two paragraphs of statement on oath made by one of plaintiff’s witnesses, who voluntarily withdrew from the case.
While making a ruling, Justice Ahmed Mohamed, held that counsel to the plaintiff was wrong to have removed the said paragraphs without leave of the court
Acoording to the Judge: “Any subsequent alteration in the process should be made with the leave of court. When the plaintiff unitararily removed the two paragraphs or any part of statement on oath without the leave of court, is against the rules of the court,” he held.
“Although the plaintiff was wrong, I will not punish him for the error. “However, the plaintiff should file an application for leave to remove the said paragraphs and name of the second plaintiff from court records,” he held.
Earlier, counsel to the defendant, Yakubu Maikyau, who stood in for Ricky Tafa, had argued that a person who is no longer a witness for the plaintiff does not need to have statement on oath in the record of the court.
He argued that his name should be struck out.
Maikyau held that removing the name of the second plaintiff by the counsel amounted to an amendment without the leave of court. “The name of the second plaintiff should be struck out from the record of the court, by way of motion,” he said.
He posited that removing the witness’ name and two paragraphs from the statement on oath by plaintiff amounted to resorting to self help.
Maikyau said: “The plaintiff ought to bring an application by motion to remove the name and statement of the witness’ statement on oath of 18 of June 2015 before they were removed. The two paragraphs were removed without leave of the court. The counsel to the plantiffs didn’t say the paragraphs were not removed but didn’t seek leave of the court
“You can’t come in and go out without leave of the court.”
He said such process of removing the statement could lead to incompetence of the case.
But counsel to the plaintiff, Tochukwu Maduka, held that the issue of competence can only be raised with the substantive suit, saying the removal of witness’sname and statement on oath can be raised orally without motion.
The plaintiffs, Bagudu’s main opponent in the April 11, 2015 election, Maj. Gen. Bello Sarkin-Yaki (retd.), Anthony Itanyi and Sahabi Sami, had instituted the suit, numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/312/2015, asking the court to declare Bagudu incompetent to contest the governorship poll.
Retired Justice Adeniyi Ademola, former trial Judge had ruled earlier that the Federal High Court Abuja had jurisdiction to hear and determine a suit.
Justice Ademola held in a ruling that the court had jurisdiction to entertain some of the plaintiffs’ prayers which he said qualified as pre-election matters that fell within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.
The Judge was delivering ruling on the separate notices of preliminary objection against the suit filed by the defendants comprising Bagudu, his party, the All Progressives Congress, and the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The plaintiffs had asked the court to disqualify Bagudu as a candidate in the election and remove him from office on the grounds that the Governor gave false information in the Affidavit of Personal Particulars otherwise called Form CF.001 submitted by him to INEC.
The plaintiffs contended that claim by Bagudu in the Form CF.001 to the effect that he was not under a fine for offence “involving in dishonesty or fraud or any offence imposed by a court or tribunal” is false.
They claimed that contrary to Bagudu’s claim, it had been discovered that he was allegedly fined by a court in the United States of America
However, along the line, one of the plaintiffs, Sani had withdrawn from the matter, declaring his support for the Governor.

Author: News Editor

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