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Abuja court okays Iwu’s trial

By Ise-Oluwa Ige
ABUJA—A FEDERAL High Court sitting in Abuja, yesterday, rejected a request by 23 registered political parties to stall hearing in a suit by five eminent Nigerians seeking a mandamus order compelling the EFCC to probe the ex-Chairman of INEC, Professor Maurice Iwu, over alleged perpetration of N30billion fraud in the commission.

The presiding high court judge, Justice Adamu Bello who refused their request to join in the suit said their aim was to stop hearing in the case noting that such interest was at variance with that of the plaintiffs.

Iwu

Chairman of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties, CNPP, Alhaji Balarabe Musa had led four other political party leaders to file the mandamus application in court in their personal capacities.

Named as co-plaintiffs were Osita Chukwu, Willian Ezugwu, Chief A. O. Nwodo and Mallam Yinusa Tanko.

But soon after the case was fixed for hearing, 23 political party leaders who were against the move to prosecute the immediate past INEC boss over the alleged N30billion fraud teamed up to file a joint application for joinder with the primary purpose of stalling the suit.

Their contention was that the mandamus application by the Balarabe Musa group was incompetent on the grounds that the suit was allegedly filed in the name of CNPP though they were not consulted before the group came to court.

They said they neither held any meeting nor gave any go ahead to anybody or group of persons in the CNPP to file the suit on their behalf.

The issue of permission to sue goes to the root of the case.

But the Balarabe group said they never filed the suit in a representative capacity but that they approached the court as private citizens.

The political parties that sought to be joined in the suit were the United Nigeria Peoples Party, UNPP, Masses Movement of Nigeria, MMN, National Majority Democratic Party, NMDP, Action Alliance, AA, African Political System, APS, All Peoples Liberation Party, ALP, Citizens Popular Party, CPP and National Democratic Party, NDP.

The rest were Better Nigeria Progressive Party, BNPP, National Solidarity Democratic Party, NSDP, New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, Nigeria Peoples Congress, NPC, National Unity Party, NUP, Liberal Democratic Party of Nigeria, LDPN, Peoples Mandate Party, PMP, New Democratic Party, NDP, Action Party of Nigeria, APN, and Accord Party, AP.

They all claimed to be bona fide members of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties, CNPP, and that they were neither aware nor authorized the petition of December 10, 2007 to the EFCC filed by CNPP for whatever reasons.

As stakeholders in the CNPP, the parties urged the court to join them to the suit in the interest of justice and fair play and on the ground that the litigants have nothing to lose if they are joined.

In his ruling on the application by the 23 political parties, the trial judge, Justice Bello, after considering their submissions dismissed the application for joinder.

He said that looking at the reliefs sought in the case, their interest was not an issue in the case and that the case itself could be effectively and effectually resolved without them.


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