By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—An Abuja High Court sitting at Bwari, on Tuesday, indefinitely adjourned hearing on dispute over who should be recognised as the authentic governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Imo State.
The court okayed indefinite adjournment of the case, following a petition alleging bias against the presiding judge, Justice Othman Musa.
In the petition that was sent to the Chief Judge of the High Court, Justice Ishaq Bello, a faction of the APC in the state, accused the Judge of granting favourable orders to Senator Hope Uzodinma who is laying claim to the governorship ticket of the party.
The petitioners alleged that Justice Musa repeatedly exhibited his bias against the son-in-law to Governor Rochas Okorocha, Mr. Uche Nwosu who is equally laying claim to APC governorship ticket in Imo State.
Uzodinma and Nwosu, who both emerged through parallel primary elections that were held by different factions of the APC in the state, had separately approached the court for orders to compel the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to recognise their candidacy.
Justice Musa had before he consolidated both suits, directed the APC and INEC to appear and show cause why reliefs Uzodinma sought via a motion ex-parte which the court heard on October 9 but declined, should not be granted.
Among reliefs Uzodinma sought before the court included an order directing the APC to forward his name to INEC as the party’s governorship candidate in Imo State, as well as an order restraining INEC from continuing to process or publish any other person’s name, except his name as flag-bearer of the APC for the 2019 gubernatorial election.
At the resumed proceeding yesterday, Justice Musa said he was served with a copy of a petition dated October 22, accusing him of bias and favouritism.
The petition was signed by one Bisike Chinaka who identified himself as the deputy chairman of the APC in Imo State.
The petition entitled ‘Judicial Bias, Misconduct and Partiality by the Court’, read in part; “Following the cancellation of the APC primary election for the party’s candidate for the 2019 Imo State Governorship Election, on 4th October, 2018, Senator Hope Uzodinma filed an action against the APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
“The matter was assigned to his Lordship Othman Musa of Court 13, Bwari Judicial Division. On the 5th of October, 2018, his Lordship made an order that the parties should show cause why the said exparte application should not be granted.”
“Therefore, Ugwunba Uche Nwosu also initiated an action in relation to the said primary election for APC candidate for the 2019 Imo Governorship Election and matter was assigned to his Lordship Valentine Ashi of Court 23, Apo Judicial Division.
“His Lordship granted an Interim Order of Injunction on 9th October, 2018 against APC and INEC to the effect that they must respectively send and receive Ugwumba Uche Nwosu’s name as the party’s candidate for the election.
“Unfortunately since this order was made, we have noticed that the proceedings before you which we have keenly watched, appeared to be skewed in favour of Hope Uzodinma instead of both parties being treated equally.
“For instance, the court is always referring to the order to show cause granted in favour of Hope Uzodinma while ignoring the others made in favour of Ugwumba Uche Nwosu as though the latter orders were made by an inferior court.
“We strongly accuse you of bias and unable to discharge the oath of your office as such recuse Yourself forthwith and remit the case file to the Chief Judge”.