Christian Abah, A House of Representatives-elect, whose election into the Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo Federal Constituency, Benue State, was nullified by an Abuja Federal High Court, is fighting tooth and nail to retrieve his Certificate of Return from his opponent, Rep. Hassan Saleh, at the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola, the trial judge, had nullified Abah’s election for forging a 1985 Diploma in Accounting of the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi and ordered that Saleh, Abah’s opponent in the National Assembly PDP primary elections, be handed the ticket.
Consequently, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, recognised Saleh as the bonafide winner and he was sworn-in to replace Abah on the June 8 inauguration of the 8th National Assembly.
Unsatisfied with the trial court’s judgment, Abah, through his counsel, Sunday Ameh, SAN, had approached the appellate court seeking to set aside the High Court’s judgment and stop Saleh’s swearing-in as ordered by the court.
When the case came up at Thursday’s sitting of the Court of Appeal, Abah’s counsel told the court that INEC had failed to comply with the notice for stay of execution of the trial court judgment served on it, which culminated in Saleh’s inauguration.
“The Second Respondent has taken steps to overreach the stay of execution of the Federal High Court’s judgment.
“We have a motion on notice dated May 22 filed same day and the second respondent has served us with a counter-affidavit yesterday, June 17 at 5pm.
“The second respondent is not in court, so we need an adjournment to move our motion for stay of execution,’’ Ameh argued.
Dr Alex Izinyon,SAN, Saleh’s counsel, objected to Ameh’s submission,and urged the court to discountenance it, arguing that parties should argue the main appeal instead of arguing the motion for stay of judgment execution.
Izinyon argued that Ameh should file his brief in order for the appeal to be argued when he responds.
Justice Yahaya Abubakar, who presided over the proceedings of the three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, in a brief ruling on the counsel’s submissions,urged them to go back and seek amicable solution to the case.
He said: “We implore both counsel to go back and talk man-to-man and seek areas of narrowing their disagreements so that the court can come in to sort out any grey areas.’’
In the main appeal, the appellant urged the court to set aside Ademola’s judgment on the ground that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
He also faulted the trial judge, arguing that there was no evidence before the lower court to support the findings that the appellant committed fraud and perjury.
The appellant also prayed the Appeal Court to set aside the judgment on the ground that it was delivered against the weight of evidence.
Abah added that the documents relied upon by the court were discredited by the documents submitted by the appellant.
He therefore urged the court to remit the case back to the Federal High Court for fresh trial by another judge other than Ademola.
The appellant further contended that the trial judge erred in law when he went ahead to decide on the matter in spite of being aware of a pending appeal before the Supreme Court.
Apart from the appeal pending before the Supreme Court, his counsel argued that there was an application for stay of proceeding pending before the trial judge.
Ameh also faulted Justice Ademola’s decision of refusing to convert the originating summons with which the plaintiff filed the case to a writ of summons.
The court adjourned the case until Sept. 21 for hearing.