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Monday, December 11, 2023

Kogi: Wada loses bid to stop Echocho‏



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The governor of Kogi state,Captain Idris Wada on Wednesday lost the bid to stop the consolidation of the suit brought by two different chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP in Kogi state,Oyebode Makinde and Jibrin Isah Echocho as a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja consolidated the two suits.
Consequently,with the consent of the parties,the court fixed March 20 for hearing in the consolidated suit.
Counsel to Echocho and Makinde,Wole Olanipekun SAN and Alex Iziyon SAN had argued in support of the consolidation while counsel to Wada,Chris Uche SAN objected to it.
Makinde had earlier filed a suit to challenge the swearing in of Wada why Echocho filed a suit urging the court to set aside the December 3 guber election which brought in Wada on ground that it was constitutional.
Consolidating the two suits,the presiding judge,Justice Donaltus Okorowo held that Order 11,Rules of the Federal High Court provided for consolidation of suits when when two or more matters are before a court and it appears that such matters have similar facts or where two or more matters before the court have the same plaintiffs or respondents as in the instant case.
According to him,”from the above provision,by Order 11 rules 1(a-c),the court may order matters be consolidated suo moto.
“The primary consideration is the interest of justice,the principal parties here are the same,the plaintiffs in the two suits are members of the same party from the same state.
“The defendants in the two suits are almost the same,the reliefs sought arose from the Kogi governorship election and the basis for instituting the suits is the judicial pronouncement of the Supreme Court.
“It is therefore safe to say that there is a ground to consolidate the two suits,the suits are hereby consolidated”.
The court also abridged the time of filing as it gives the plaintiffs three days to file and the respondents seven days to reply.
The plaintiff is also expected to reply on point of law if any,within three days.
Justice Okorowo told the parties to address it in writing whether the court has jurisdiction to interpret the judgement of the Supreme Court.
Earlier,the PDP had through his counsel, O.A Akuyibo sought to be joined as the fourth defendants in the Echocho suit.
The court however granted the order.
At the last adjourned date,the court drew the attention of counsel to Echocho,Wole Olanipekun SAN to the earlier suit brought by Makinde pending before it.
However,he responded that the court could use its discretion to consolidate the two applications as it will go a long way to ease the heavy burden on it and it will not bring about any harm.
Counsel to Makinde,Alex Izinyon SAN aligned himself with the submission that the suits should be consolidated so that it would be easier for all the parties.
Opposing the application for consolidation,counsel to Wada,Chris Uche SAN argued that the two suits are different from each other going by their subject matter.
He added that in the first suit, Makinde was challenging Wada’s swearing-in while Echocho is asking the court to set aside the election of December 3,2011 which produced Wada as the governor.
Uche also argued that they have raised an objection as to the locus of Makinde instituting such a suit and also intending to challenge the jurisdiction of the court in the suit brought by Echocho.
Echocho had in his suit wanted the court to give an order setting aside Wada’s swearing in and order INEC to conduct a fresh election pursuant to the January 27 judgement of the Supreme court.
He also wants a declaration that INEC which is an institution established by the Constitution is under a to duty to obey and comply with decision of the Supreme Court delivered on January 27,2012.
It will be re-called that the apex court had on January 27 sacked five governors,Kogi inclusive.
The plaintiff further wants the court to declare that INEC being the appellant in Appeal No,SC/357/2011 between INEC(as appellant) V Alhaji Ibrahim Idris(as respondent) which prayed the Supreme court to decree and declare that the term of office of the last holder of the office of Governor of Kogi state constitutionally lapsed on 28th May,2011 by the virtue of Section 180(2) of the Constitution and which appeal/reliefs the Supreme court allowed cannot rightly and in good conscience be heard and allowed to jettison or misinterprete in any way the said judgement of the Supreme court to again defeat the clear wordings of Section 180(2) and (2A) of the same Constitution.
The court has also been urged to declare that purported election to the office of Governor of Kogi state held by the defendant during the pendency of its appeal to the Supreme court in Appeal SC/357/2011 and which purportedly produced the 2nd defendant as Governor-elect of Kogi state was unconsciable,unconstitutional,null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
He also want the court to declare that the election that brought Wada in was done in violation of the mandatory provisions of Section 178(2) of the Constitution,Section 25(8) and 31(1) of the Electoral Act.
Isah also wants the court to declare that the letter issued by the INEC on January 30,2012 directing Wada to be sworn in based on the December 3,2012 is contemptuous,null and void and of no effect.

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