Justice Gabriel Kolawole of a Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday adjourned the hearing of a suit seeking the nullification of the registration of the All Progressive Congress as a political party.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) opposed the hearing of a fresh suit and urged the judge not to entertain the suit because the plaintiff had opted to withdraw its earlier application, which the court scheduled for hearing on Tuesday.
The earlier application had been filed by Chief O. M. Ikegwuonu and 29 others who acted on behalf of the African People’s Congress, a group which is in contention with the All Progressives Congress over the usage of the APC acronym.
The application was dated July 8, 2013, and was filed before the All Progressives Congress was registered by INEC.
The plaintiffs went ahead to file the fresh application dated May 15, 2014 after INEC had registered their rival All Progressives Congress.
The plaintiff’s lawyer, Mr. Ikoro Ikoro explained that the application, which sought to restrain INEC from registering APC as a party, had been overtaken by events. He also said that hearing the earlier application will merely amount to an academic exercise because the action it sought to restrain had taken place. Ikoro told the court that the application was withdrawn for “obvious reasons”. He said “this matter was pending in court but INEC went ahead to register the All Progressives Congress. So, it is no longer relevant.”
He also cited that with the registration of the All Progressives Congress despite the existence of a pending suit challenging the registration, INEC violated Section 66(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He argued that “Section 66(a) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), stated clearly that when a suit is pending before the court, all parties in the matter should maintain status quo, awaiting the full determination of the suit by the court”.
The court went on to strike out the July 8, 2013 application after which Ikoro prayed the court to hear the fresh application. INEC’s counsel, Ibrahim Bawa however opposed, saying “we are in court today to argue the motion on notice that sought to restrain INEC from registering APC, which has been struck out.”
The judge thereafter fixed July 3 for the hearing of the fresh application.