Justice Stephen Daylop-Pam of a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers Sate, has adjourned till September 13, 2023, for hearing on the matter filed by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) against the National Assembly candidates of the Accord Party, Labour Party (LP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The PDP is challenging the conduct of the Accord and LP’s primaries for National Assembly, seeking the court to nullify the election on alleged electoral irregularities.
When the matter was mentioned in court yesterday, the Counsel for the PDP, Mr. Den Nwigwe (SAN), moved an application to join more people to the suit, seeking an extension for the hearing of the matter.
Also, the Counsel for Accord Party, Mr. Abdulhameed Mohammed (SAN), filed motion for extension of time to enable his clients file their counter affidavits.
On his part, the Counsel for LP, Mr. Uche Olewunne, filed an application seeking the court to order the 1st respondent, INEC, to receive their services at the INEC office in Port Harcourt.
Having received the submissions of the parties in the suit, the presiding Judge, Justice Stephen Daylop-Pam, gave the directive to INEC to receive the services in Port Harcourt and adjourned all the matters till September 13 for a hearing.
Speaking outside the courtroom, Mohammed explained that they had filed application seeking the court to strike out the suit for lack of jurisdiction.
He said: “To regularise our cases, we filed counter affidavit. We filed an application seeking for the matter to be struck out or dismissed on grounds of jurisdiction but they (PDP) filed a motion to bring in other defendants by way of joinder and we indicated to the court that that is not ripe for hearing and at any event we are going to oppose that application.”
On his part, the Counsel for the Accord Party’s Candidates, Mr. A.J. Owonikoko (SAN), expressed optimism that by the next adjourned date the court would hear matters ripe for hearing.
He said: “The last time we were in court, we had regularised our preliminary objection to the suit, and the matter was adjourned to today for that to happen. But in the interval, the plaintiff filed a motion to join other people in the suit and the time to respond to the joinder has not lapsed.
“On the merit of the case itself, we have also filed our processes in answer. So the court has adjourned to September 13 for the hearing of pending applications, whichever one the court finds ripe for hearing on that day.”
The PDP’s counsel, Nwigwe, declined comment when approached by journalists at the court premises.
Meanwhile, the Governorship Candidate of Accord Party in Rivers State, Mr. Dumo Lulu-Briggs, has declared that the PDP is unnecessarily distracting other political parties in the state by dragging their national assembly candidates to court over alleged irregularities in the primaries.
Lulu-Briggs, who also spoke outside the court room, said that the action of the PDP showed that it is scared to test its popularity at the polls, stressing that Rivers’ people must be allowed to choose those that would serve them.
He said: “From the very beginning, we say that this is an unnecessary distraction. The PDP has no business with the private affair of another party. This is not necessary, we should be doing other things but PDP will continue to meddle in the internal affairs of other parties and I do not know to what end they seek in disqualifying all the candidates so they produce a sole candidate for all the elective positions in Rivers State.
“It is unfortunate but the Rivers people must be allowed to choose who will be their next governor or senator.
“I think this is an unwelcome exercise embarked upon by the PDP and their action just indicates that they do not have good candidates otherwise they will want to test their performance at the polls.”
Culled from THISDAY