Certificate of return: Appeal Court orders prompt hearing of Okorocha’s suit

Move by Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha to have the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) issue him a certificate of return f...

Move by Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha to have the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) issue him a certificate of return for Imo West senatorial seat has got a boost with the Court of Appeal, Abuja ordering prompt hearing of the suit he (Okorocha) filed to that effect before the Federal High Court in Abuja.

The Court of Appeal has also struck out two motions filed by Senator Osita Izunaso; one for leave to appeal an interlocutory decision of the trial court, and the other, for an order staying proceedings at the Federal High Court pending the determination of the appeal.

The Court of Appeal struck out both motions after lawyer to Izunaso, Edidem Ani applied to withdraw them on realising that they were defective.

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja had, on May 22, 2019, adjourned further proceedings in the case filed by Okorocha to await the Court of Appeal’s decision in the motion for stay of proceedings filed by Izunaso.

By the latest decision of the Court of Appeal, contained in its ruling of May 27, 2017, a copy of which The Nation sighted on May 28, 2019, the coast is now clear for Justice Abang to resume proceedings in the case by Okorocha.

In the ruling by a three-man panel, led by Justice Stephen Adah, the court said: “since there is no opposition to the request for the withdrawal of the motion for stay filed on 17/5/2019, it is hereby struck out, having been withdrawn.

“Under Rule 10(c) of the Practice Direction of this court 2013, this court is mandated to order accelerated hearing of the case at the lower court.

“But, since we have been informed that the lower court has been hearing the case day to day, there is no need to order a fresh accelerated hearing.

“The day-to-day hearing, as it is presently done by the lower court, is commendable and it should continue. That is the order of this court.”

Other members of court’s three-man panel that gave the ruling are Justices Emmanuel Agim and Mohammed Idris.

Izunaso is, by his appeal, challenging the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, Abuja to hear Okorocha’s suit.

He is also querying the competence of the decision by Justice Abang, granting the request by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to be made a defendant in the suit.

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Before adjourning proceedings on May 22, 2019, Justice Abang had threatened to send Izunaso to prison for committing contempt of court by including the judge as a party to be served with the processes he filed at the Court of Appeal.

Justice Abang noted in, a ruling, that Izunaso’s decision to include his name as a party to be served a court process filed at the Court of Appeal was scandalous and embarrassing and showed that he (Izunaso) had no respect for the court.

The judge said: “The motion filed at the Court of Appeal, where my name is recorded is before me, tagged as ‘Exhibit C,’ attached to the third defendant’s (Izunaso’s) affidavit of facts.

“The third defendant is also before me so I have jurisdiction over him summarily. As if that was not sufficient, he deposed to an affidavit that the motion was duly served on me.

“This is only to ridicule the court and lower the esteem of the judge in the eye of the public as if the judge is a party in the matter.

“This shows the level of disregard Sen. Izunaso has for the court, which is established by the Constitution.”

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