The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has stopped the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from prosecuting the suspended Adamawa Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Hudu Yunusa-Ari, over his declaration of Aisha ‘Binani’ Dahiru, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, as governor in the March 18 poll.
Justice Donatus Okorowo gave the order after Michael Aondoaka, SAN, counsel to Ms Dahiru, moved the ex-parte motion to the effect.
In the ex-parte motion marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/935/2023, the APC candidate in the poll sued INEC, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and another as respondents.
Mr Aondoaka, while moving the motion on Monday, argued that until the election petition tribunal decides his client’s fate per section 149 of the Electoral Act, 2022, the prosecution of Mr Yunusa-Ari cannot be valid.
He said the decision of INEC to file an action against any person involved in Ms Dahiru’s April 15 declaration as winner of the supplementary poll in the state when the tribunal was yet to determine the petition of his client would deprive her of section 285(6) of the law which gives 180 days within which the petition filed on May 6 should be dispensed with.
The senior lawyer informed the court that though a similar suit was filed before Justice Inyang Ekwo, where a judicial review of INEC’s action was sought, the sister court ordered Ms Dahiru to approach a tribunal with her suit, having been an election-related matter.
Mr Andoaka said an undertaking had been signed to prove to the court that the present suit was not frivolous.
He said in the undertaking, they were ready to face any cost should the court find the case to be frivolous.
After listening to Mr Andoaka, Justice Okorowo ordered the parties to maintain the status quo ante bellum pending the hearing and determination of the matter.
The judge, who adjourned the matter until July 18 for a hearing, ordered the respondents to show cause while the reliefs sought by Ms Dahiru should not be granted.