Court okays prosecution of suspended Adamawa REC

An application by the All Progressives Congress governorship candidate in Adamawa State, Senator Aisha Binani, seeking to stop the prosecution of the suspended Adamawa Resident Electoral Commission, Hudu Yunusa-Ari, has been struck out by an Abuja Federal High Court.

The court had previously given an interim order, directing the Independent National Electoral Commission, the Attorney-General of the Federation, and the Inspector General of Police to maintain the “status quo” in its plan to prosecute Hudu.

This followed a motion ex parte filed by Binani.

The motion marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/935/2023, filed by her lawyer, M. K. Aondoakaa, SAN, sought the interpretation of Sections 144 and 149 of the Electoral Act 2022.Section 144 and 149 of the Electoral Act 2022 reads, “The Commission shall consider any recommendation made to it by a tribunal with respect to the prosecution by it of any person for an offence disclosed in any election petition.

“Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Act, any defect or error arising from any actions taken by an official of the Commission about any notice, form or document made or given or other things done by the official in pursuance of the provisions of the Constitution or of this Act, or any rules made thereunder, remain valid, unless otherwise challenged and declared invalid by a competent court of law or tribunal.

She urged the court to restrain parties in the interim so that INEC can show cause on why Hudu, her star witness at the Adamawa Tribunal, should be prosecuted when the Tribunal sitting was ongoing.

But INEC’s lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs, held that the application was an academic exercise aimed at binding a court of coordinate jurisdiction from performing its functions.

Ruling, Justice Donatus U. Okorowo subsequently lifted the interim order saying, “There is no order of this court extending the lifespan of this order on status quo. Okorowo held that it was not permitted under the law for a plaintiff should approach the Federal High Court to stop the proceedings at a court of coordinate jurisdiction.

He added that he lacks the power to bind a court of coordinate jurisdiction.He said, “On the whole, the INEC objection succeeds; this case is struck out.”

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