#TrackNigeria: The Federal High Court Abuja, on Monday, summoned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Labour Party (LP) over the omission of the name of Mr Umaru Angibi, LP’s candidate and party logo from the ballot papers for the 2019 Nasarawa governorship poll.
Justice Nkeonye Maha, who gave the order in an exparte motion with suit number: FHC/LF/CS/9/19 filed by Counsel to Angibi, Joshua Barau, directed the applicant to serve INEC and LP through substituted means within 24 hours of the order.
Justice Maha also ordered that the defendants/respondents should respond within 48 hours of the service and adjourned the matter until Sept. 5 for further hearing.
The judge directed that INEC should equally be served with the hearing notice coming up on Thursday, Sept 5.
While Mr Angibi is the plaintiff/applicant, INEC and Labour Party are 1st and 2nd defendants/respondents respectively in the case.
Barau, who is the Counsel to Angibi, had approached the court in accordance with Order 26, Rule 8 and Order 6, Rule 5 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2019! Order V, Rule 9 of the Federal High Court Act and under the inherent jurisdiction of the honourable court.
The applicant had sought for an order for leave to issue and serve the originating summons and other court processes in the suit on Labour Party by pasting the notice on the entrance gate of the party at No. 29, Oke Agbe Street, Off Ladoke Akintola Boulevard, Garlic II, Abuja.
He also sought an order of substituted service of all the processes in the suit on Labor Party by serving same at its national headquarters at the same address as above.
“The applicant seeks an order abridging the time within which the respondents may file and serve their memorandum of appearance and their defence in this suit and for such further order(s) as the honourable court may deem fit to make in the circumstance,” Barau told the judge.
Barau had told Justice Maha that INEC and Labour Party failed to comply with the Electoral Act during the 2019 governorship election in Nasarawa State.
“The election, having been conducted by the 1st respondent without including the plaintiff/applicant’s name and party logo.
“This matter was filed since March 7. It is important that this court abridge the time within. which the respondents may file their defence so that the matter can be heard and disposed of within the time left,” the lawyer said.
He said although INEC had always received the court processes, it had never showed up for hearing.
He urged the court to grant their prayers, citing relevant sections of the law and previous case to back his argument.
In an affidavit deposed to by Umaru Angibi in support of the exparte motion, the aggrieved candidate said he was the governorship candidate of Labour Party for the 2019 poll.
He said the matter came up on four occasions in the Lafia Division of the Federal High Court before it was transferred to the Abuja Division.
He said each time, the 2nd defendant/respondent did not come despite several attempts by the bailiff to serve originating processes and hearing notice on it.
The applicant said “that the 2nd defendant at all material time always refused, declined accepting service of the orientation processes in the guise that the person responsible for receipt of same is not on sit and no other person can accept to receive processes except him.
“Attached is the affidavits sworn to by the court bailiffs marked as exhibits A, A1, A2 and A3.
“That personal service on the 2nd defendant/respondent of the originating process and all other processes filed and/or to be filed in this suit will be impossible and inconvenient as nobody may be found there at the time of attempting to serve the 2nd defendant/respondent personally or everyone around decline to accept service as they have always done since this originating process was filed.
‘I verily believe that it is a matter of urgency that this suit is heard speedily and time within which the respondents may file their defence to the suit be abridged,” he said.
Angibi urged the court to grant his application in the interest of justice and that “the defendant/respondent will not be prejudiced by the grant of same.” (NAN)