A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission not to go proceed with its planned collation and announcement of the results of the governorship election in Bauchi State held on March 9.
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court Abuja issued the ordered following an ex-parte application filed by the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Bauchi State Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar.
According to the judge, the restraining order is to last till the determination of the suit brought before the court by the plaintiffs.
But Justice Ekwo also ordered an accelerated hearing in the matter with effect from tomorrow March 20, 2019, asking the two parties to appear in his court for the hearing.
In the ex-parte motion, the APC and Mr Abubakar asked for an order of interim injunction restraining INEC from resuming, concluding or announcing the result of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State in respect of the governorship election.
It will be recalled that the said election had earlier been declared inconclusive by INEC due to incidents in Tafawa Balewa local government area but the commission at the weekend made a volte face, saying that the supplementary election had been cancelled based on a report by a committee headed by one of its national commissioners, Festus Okoye.
When the application was first made on Monday, Justice Ekwo had directed INEC to appear before the court on Tuesday to explain why the order sought by the plaintiffs should not to be granted.
Then, INEC, which was represented by Tanimu Inuwa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, opted to file a motion challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the matter.
But objecting to the application, the counsel to the plaintiffs, Ahmed Raji, informed the court that the order issued on Monday asking the electoral body to show cause why the requests of the plaintiffs should not be granted, had not been obeyed by INEC.
At that point, Inuwa admitted that the order had not been complied with but pleaded with the court to be allowed to address the court orally on the issue but his plea was turned down.
The court argued that since the ex-parte application was in writing and duly served on INEC, it was necessary for the defendant to also appear before the court with a written or formal response.
In a bench ruling, the judge granted the interim injunction restraining INEC from resuming, concluding and announcing the governorship election result in the state pending the determination of all issues raised by the plaintiffs in their originating summons.
It will be recalled that Governor Abubakar had on Monday met with President Muhammadu Buhari and informed him of his decision to challenge the decision of INEC to reinstate the Tafawa Balewa LGA results having been cancelled by the Returning Officer, saying that under the law, it is only the court that could do that.