By TAIYE AGBAJE
ABUJA- Sen. Ita Enang, on Tuesday, prayed a Federal High Court, (FHC), Abuja to commit Mr Akanimo Udofia to prison for allegations bordering on perjury.
Enang, who contested in the May 26 All Progressives Congress (APC)’s governorship primary in Akwa Ibom, made the application while presenting his argument before Justice Emeka Nwite.
He told Justice Nwite that Udofia, who also contested in the poll, lied to court for filing an affidavit of non-multiplicity of action despite a similar suit before a FHC Uyo.
He said for lying on oath in contravention of the FHC practice direction, Udofia should be committed to prison.
“I want my lord to take note of perjury that was committed by the 2nd plaintiff (Udofia) in this matter.
“I urge you to commit Udofia to prison for perjury, for claiming that there was no other matter filed in respect of this matter,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a FHC sitting in Uyo had, on Nov. 14, nullified the nomination of Mr Udofia as the governorship candidate of the APC in Akwa Ibom.
The judge, Agatha Okeke, in the suit instituted by Enang, ordered the APC to conduct a fresh governorship primary within two weeks but barred Udofia from participating in the new primary.
But Udofia had filed an appeal marked: CS/C/370/2022 to challenge the FHC judgment.
Enang, who was former Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, also prayed Justice Nwite to dismiss the suit for lack of diligent prosecution.
The development followed an application for extension of time field by Umeh Kalu, SAN, who appeared for Udofia on Tuesday.
NAN reports that the APC and Udofia had sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the sole defendant in the matter before Nwite.
Udofia, a factional governorship candidate of the APC, had sought an order compelling INEC to accept his name as governorship candidate for Akwa Ibom 2023 poll.
He also asked for an order directing the commission to publish his name as forwarded by the party to it.
The court after listening to parties in the suit had fixed Oct 6, 2022 for judgment.
But the appearance of Enang in court forced the judge to halt the delivery of the judgment.
The ex-lawmaker drew the attention of the court to his presence as a party seeking to be joined in the matter and the court granted his prayer in a motion he brought for joinder on Dec. 6, 2022.
NAN also reports that Justice Nwite had, on Dec. 21, 2022, fixed today (Jan. 10) for definite hearing of the suit, after Kalu failed to respond to Enang’s counter affidavit.
The senior lawyer had sought an adjournment to enable him to file and serve Enang with his process.
The judge had ordered all parties in the suit, including the INEC, to file their processes before the next adjourned date fixed for hearing.
But upon resumed hearing on Tuesday, Kalu informed the court that he had not filed any application because an Abuja Court of Appeal, on Dec. 24, 2022, reserved judgment in a similar case pending before it.
He, therefore, said that a motion for an extension of time to await the decision of the superior court, which might affect the decision of the lower court, had been filed.
He prayed the court to adjourned the matter until Jan. 20 when the appeal would have been decided.
Kalu argued that no party would suffer any loss if the matter was adjourned.
“I urge you to take the condition of King Solomon and the two harlots in the Bible,” he said.
Besides, he said based on the rule of the court, the judge had the power to adjourn any matter in the interest of justice.
Kalu said he was ready to pay a cost for the adjournment.
Lawyer to INEC, Wendy Kuku, also corroborated Kalu’s submission on adjournment.
However, Enang vehemently opposed an application for adjournment, urging the court to dismiss the suit.
The ex-presidential aide, who argued that the appeal did not arise from the suit before Nwite, said a call for an adjournment was a tactic to delay the suit, citing Order 32 (1) of the FHC Rules, 2019, to counter any request for stay of execution.
He said contrary to Kalu’s submission that no one would suffer any injustice, Enang said: “My lord, we have suffered untold and irreparable injustice from the hand of the plaintiff in this matter.”
He said he had been a member of APC since 2014 while Udofia had been a member of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) all through.
He said Udofia, who resigned from PDP on May 1, 2022, and joined APC on May 5, 2022, when the party’s register had already closed on April 14, 2022, and submitted to INEC, contested in APC primary held on May 26 against the provisions of the law.
He said this was even when Udofia contested in the PDP governirship primaries held on May 25.
He said as a result of Udofia’s act, APC, currently, had no governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom while PDP had.
“I cannot campaign and he (Udofia) cannot campaign either, whereas his party, PDP, is campaigning.
“So it is the 2nd plaintiff that is saying that the baby should be slaughtered because he is going back to his party, PDP.
“This is so because he (Udofia) is not a candidate by the orders of this honourable court delivered in Uyo division,” he said.
Enang said he was the beneficiary of the FHC judgment delivered in Uyo which Udofia sought to frustrate.
Citing Order 19, Rule 14.of the FHC Practice Direction, and Order 6, Rule 4, he argued that the plaintiffs had failed to diligently prosecute the case, hence, the matter should be dismissed.
According to him, no amount of damages will assuage where APC has no candidate in the state for the election and no damages will assuage me if I did not stand as candidate in the election.
“I have also make an application that Udofia be sent to prison for perjury; for swearing to an affidavit of non-multiplicity of action,” he said
Justice Nwite, after listening to parties, adjourned the matter until Wednesday for ruling.(NAN)