BY VINCENT UJUMADU
AWKA—THE Federal High Court sitting in Awka has fixed February 22, 2012, for hearing on suit filed by Anambra State branch of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, against the federal and state governments, as well as the state Independent Electoral Commission, ANSIEC, for not conducting local government elections in the state.
When the case came up yesterday, the presiding judge, Justice Peter Olayiwola, wondered why ANSIEC was not represented, adding that the absence of ANSIEC in court made him uncomfortable.
The state government was represented by C.C Agali of the state Ministry of Justice, while the PDP was represented by Mr. Izuchukwu Nsofor.
Counsel to PDP, Nsofor, had urged the court to commence hearing, alleging that the defendants were deliberately delaying the hearing of the case to buy time.
He said all the parties to the case had been duly served, adding that the time allowed for the defendants to reply had also elapsed.
But counsel to the state government, Agali, asked for more time to enable the state attorney general get proper briefing on the matter since he would be the one to handle the case.
State chairman of PDP, Chief Kenneth Emeakayi, who was in court with hundreds of members of the party, said PDP decided to bring the matter in defense of the fundamental human rights of its members when it was obvious that the state government was not prepared to conduct the exercise.
According to him, the people at the grass root are being denied dividends of democracy because of lack of democratic government as stipulated by the constitution at that level.
He explained that essentially, PDP was praying the court to order the state government to conduct election that would enthrone democratically elected officials at the local government level.
He said the party was also praying the court to restrain the federal government from disbursing money meant for the 21 local government areas of the state to people not elected until the local government was conducted.
He added that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, should henceforth put Anambra State local government allocation into an escrow account pending the conduct of the election.