The Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday halted the move to prosecute the suspended Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Adamawa State, Hudu Yunusa Ari.
Justice Donatus Okorowo ordered the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to maintain the status quo ante bellum.
He held that parties should stay action pending when the respondents show cause why the court should not grant the motion filed by Senator Aishatu Dahiru Binani, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last election.
The ruling was on a motion ex-parte filed by Binani’s lawyer, former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Mike Aondoaka (SAN).
Justice Okorowo was of the view that since issues relating to the conduct and outcome of the election were before a tribunal and parties have submitted to the law, parties should maintain status quo ante belum pending the order to show cause.
The judge ordered the respondents – AGF, IGP and INEC – to appear in court to show cause why the order sought by the Binani should not be granted.
He adjourned until July 18 for the respondents to appear and show cause.
Part of the ruling reads: “It is hereby ordered as follows: the respondents are ordered to show cause why the application will not be granted; parties are ordered to maintain status quo antebellum pending the order to show cause; an order for accelerated hearing is hereby made in this case.”
Before the ruling, Aondoaka said he filed a motion seeking the court’s interpretation of Section 144 of the Electoral Act 2022.
He also prayed for a preservative order for parties to maintain the status quo on issues relating to the case, pending the determination of his client’s substantive suit, marked: ABJ/CS/935/2023.
Aondoaka told the court that his client was challenging the outcome of the election at the tribunal and has Ari listed as his main witness.
The SAN said Ari was being harassed and prevented from giving evidence.
He said if the court did not intervene, and the alleged harassment of the suspended REC persists, it would jeopardise his client’s case before the tribunal.
The ex-AGF then prayed the court to halt the alleged harassment of his client’s star witness.
Binani is challenging INEC’s declaration of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Ahmadu Fintiri, as the winner.
Ari, a lawyer, courted controversy during the re-run governorship election.
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He declared the Binani as the winner while the collation of results was ongoing.
INEC overturned his declaration, concluded the collation, and announced Fintiri as the winner.
Following the nationwide uproar Ari’s move generated, former President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the Inspector-General of Police to investigate the incident.
INEC last Thursday said it had filed a six-count charge against Ari