By Emmanuel Oloniruha
Abuja – The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has petitioned the National Judicial Council over the exparte order stopping the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from concluding the governorship election in Bauchi State. A statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, on Wednesday, disclosed that the petition was filed in an affidavit sworn to by the PDP’s National Chairman, Mr Uche Secondus, in Abuja. On Tuesday, a Federal High Court in Abuja barred INEC from resuming the collation and announcement of governorship election result in Bauchi.
Justice Inyang Ekwo issued the order following an ex parte application filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Bauchi state Governor, Mohammed Abubakar. The party, barely 24 hours after rejecting the order, described the exparte order issued by Justice Ekwo as a violation of the Constitution and Electoral Act, accusing the judge of sitting on a matter that ought to have been handled by an election petition tribunal. It added that in granting an exparte order stopping INEC from concluding the governorship election in Bauchi State, Justice Ekwo violated Section 87(11) of the Electoral Act, “which states that no court has the power or jurisdiction to stop any election pending the determination of a suit.” It stated that issues of collation of results and declaration of winner were post-election events, which the Electoral Act and Constitution placed same under the jurisdiction of election petition tribunal. It quoted the affidavit stating that, “despite this clear provision of the law, Justice Ekwo decided to hear the application within 24 hours on March 19 and issued an order on INEC not to continue with the election until the case before him is finally decided. “That the collation of results is a post-election event and under section 87(11) of the Electoral Act, no court has the power or jurisdiction to stop any election pending the determination of a suit. “That an election includes voting, collation of results and the declaration of results. “That as a result of the order on the Independent National Electoral Commission, the conclusion of the Bauchi State Governorship election, which was to take place on 19th March 2019, was stalled. “That the order of Justice Ekwo was made contrary to the provisions of the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 as amended dealing without fair hearing and also section 87(11) of the Electoral Act. “That the Chief Justice of Nigeria has constituted the various Election Petition Tribunals in Nigeria to handle such cases and the assumption of jurisdiction by Justice Ekwo is an affront to the constitution and electoral wishes of the people of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area and Bauchi State” The party said that not only did Justice Ekwo violate the clear provisions of the Electoral Act, the motion granted was also an affront on the electoral wishes of the people of Bauchi State. The PDP urged the NJC to save the country’s democracy by taking an urgent step against the order. Meanwhile, INEC has said that it has fully complied with the order, while it was challenging it.
Mr Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commissioner, Information and Voter Education, on Tuesday in Abuja told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the commission had filed a ‘motion on notice`, challenging the jurisdiction of the court in granting the order.
” The motion has not been taken. Until that motion is taken, the court order barring us from collating the result of Tafawa Balewa area subsists,” he said.
Okoye said that though the commission had stopped the collation of the governorship result, the collation process would continue in the state assembly elections in the affected areas.