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Presidency contests jurisdiction on suit against Jega

By Innocnt Anaba
President Goodluck Jonathan and the  Attorney-General of the  Federation, AGF,  have asked  a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos to dismiss a suit  by a Lagos-based lawyer, Ezekwesiri Eluche, challenging the qualification of Prof. Attahiru Jega to head Independent National Electoral Commission,  INEC.

Counsel to President Jonathan and AGF, in a preliminary objection challenging the suit, is arguing that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to institute the action.

The President and the AGF are contending in the preliminary objection that the plaintiff commenced the suit as an individual against the defendants through an originating summons and want the court  to determine whether it (court) has the jurisdiction to hear and determine the suit having regard to the plaintiff’s lack of locus standi.

Also Jega in a preliminary objection is challenging the competence of the court to adjudicate over the suit as it is presently constituted.

Jega, in the application through his counsel, is contended that the originating summons filed at the Federal High Court, Lagos was served on him in Abuja, which is outside the court’s jurisdiction.

He further contended that the originating summons do not contain the mandatory endorsement for them to be served outside jurisdiction of issuance and as such,  the court lacks the jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Jega, who was represented  for the first time in the suit, also wants the court to determine whether it (court) is competent  to hear the matter, where the originating summons are incurably defective.

According to him, the court can only be competent if it is properly constituted, subject matter within jurisdiction and condition precedent to instituting the suit was fulfilled.

Adjourned

The trial Judge, Justice Mohammed Liman, meanwhile, adjourned till February 14, to hear the preliminary objections and then originating summons, while ordering parties to exchange  written addresses before the next adjourned date.

Plaintiff in the substantive suit is contending that  the appointment  and confirmation of Jega as INEC’s chairman by the President and the Senate was unconstitutional.


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