Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members in Abia State who were dissatisfied with a Federal High Court judge in Umuahia’s apparent unwillingness to hear a pre-election dispute filed a petition with Olukayode Ariwoola, the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC).
Attorney for the aggrieved members, Nnamdi U. Nwokocha Ahaaiwe, claimed in the petition that Justice Evelyn Anyadike is delaying the hearing of the matter.
The contentious ruling by Justice Anyadike on the 2022 Electoral Act in Umuahia invalidated the procedure carried out by the National Assembly.
In this case, Mr Ndudi Nwagbara and six others are suing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
According to the petitions, on July 27, 2022, the petitioners wrote to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.
They said a follow-up letter was also sent to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court on August 15, 2022.
They said a “perusal of the aforesaid communication will show that the gravamen of our complaint is that contrary to the express and extant directives of both the National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Practice Directions issued by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, our case was adjourned from the 21st day of July 2022 to the 30th day of September 2022 by the Federal High Court 1, Umuahia, which proceeded on Vacation, contrary to the extant directives that all Courts hearing pre-election matters should not go on vacation until they conclude the cases pending before them which ought to be heard on a day-to-day basis.”
He further stated that the petition read: “Because the Court hearing, the judge matter had proceeded on vacation contrary to the extant directives, we applied to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria to assign the case to any vacation Court in Nigeria for hearing because of the several steps still to be taken in the matter.
“Our clients are in very great distress and alarmed at this development. Their political opponents in Abia State against whom the case is filed have been boasting that they have arranged to have the claim expire by effluxion of time since they have no answer to the case’s merits.
“By the 30th day of September 2022, when hearing in the case is set to resume if nothing urgent is done, there will be barely a month and nine days to the expiration of the constitutionally regulated lifespan of the case.
“Indeed, the 2nd and 3rd defendants have not even entered an appearance o,r if they have, none has been served on us four months after the commencement of a pre-election case, lending credence to our client’s fears that something fishy is definitely going on.
“In view of the foregoing, we urge you sir to give appropriate directives, which will not only safeguard the legitimate lawful right of our clients to a quick and unhindered access to Court, but also protect the image, integrity and reputation of the judiciary at large.”