By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—The All Progressives Congress, APC, yesterday persuaded the Federal High Court in Abuja to consolidate two suits that are seeking to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from going ahead with the process for the recall of Senator Dino Melaye.
The party, through its lawyer, Mr. Olatunji Atoyebi, told the court that it was opposed to the bid by the electoral body to recall Melaye who is representing Kogi West Senatorial District, on the basis of “an illegal petition.”
It drew attention of the court to a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/601/2017, which it earlier lodged with a view to stopping any move by INEC to sack Melaye from the Senate.
Aside APC, other plaintiffs behind the said pending suit were Alhaji Haddy Ametuo, Hon. Shaibu Osune, S.T Adejo, Comrade Yahaya Ade Ismail, Chief Gbenga Ashagun, Ahovi S. Ibrahim, Ghali ND Usman, Isa Abubakar, I. Molemodile, Abubakr M. Adamu and Daniel Sekpe.
The party urged the court to consolidate the suit which was originally adjourned to be heard after vacation, with the one marked FHC/ABJ/CS/567/2017, which Melaye personally filed to challenge his planned recall.
Justice John Tsoho had previously adjourned hearing on both suits till September.
However, following an application by INEC, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba who is sitting as a vacation Judge, on July 27, abridged the hearing date to August.
Consequently, APC, at the resumed sitting on Monday, applied for merger of the two legal actions which it said were in search same principal reliefs.
Following a no objection stance by the INEC lawyer, Mr. Sulayman Ibrahim, and Melaye’s lawyer, Mr. Nkem Okoro, Justice Dimgba granted the application, saying it was “a proper thing to do”.
Meanwhile, the court, in a separate ruling, joined three persons that wrote the petition for Melaye’s recall, as INEC’s co-defendants in the consolidated suit.
Justice Dimgba held that the applicants- Chief Olowo Cornelius John Anjorin and Mallam Yusuf Adamu- having identified themselves as Melaye’s constituents and authors of the contested petition, ought to be joined as interested parties in the matter.
“At the heart of the litigation is the representation of Kogi West in the Senate. As well as an attempt by constituents to recall their Senator in a process being driven by the defendant, INEC.
“Questions 2, 3, 4, and some of the principal reliefs sought by the plaintiff, attacked the competence and validity of the petition upon which the recall was based.
“I am of the view that these applicants have shown interest warranting the court to join them as defendants”, the Judge held.
He dismissed Melaye’s contention that the applicants neither exhibited their voters card to prove that they were indeed electorates from Kogi West, nor attached a copy of the petition to the joinder-motion that was moved by their lawyer, Chief Anthony Adeniyi.