JUDICIARY

COURT SUMMONS INEC OVER REFUSAL TO OBEY 21 YEAR OLD JUDGMENT ON THE ILLEGALITY OF 12 WARDS IN WARRI

The High Federal High Court in Warri has summoned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the Commission’s alleged refusal to obey 21 year old judgment on the illegality of 12 Wards in Warri South Constituency.

The Trustees of Ugbarajo Iwere Leaders Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organization incorporated under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Thursday the 23rd day of May, 2024 approached the Federal High Court in Warri on behalf of itself and the people of Itsekiri ethnic extraction in Warri Federal Constituency; comprising of Warri North, Warri South and Warri South-West Local Government Areas of Delta State of Nigeria by way of an Ex-parte application to seek an interim injunction to restrain INEC amongst other reliefs; compel the INEC, “to forthwith obey relevant orders/rulings/judgments pertaining to the legal structure and number of Wards in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State of Nigeria in accordance with the core values of the INEC as contained in its 2022 Manual for Election Officials particularly with respect to its obligations to observe and adhere to the principles of neutrality, natural justice, equity and good conscience”

In the suit with the particulars being FHC/WR/CS/46/2024: between The Trustees of Ugbarajo Iwere Leaders Foundation Vs. INEC & Ors, the Plaintiffs, the Trustees of Ugbarajo Iwere Leaders Foundation had beside filing an Originating Summons and Motion on Notice also filed a Motion Ex-parte to challenge the composition of the Management/Delimitation Team or Committee set up by INEC to take charge of the review of Wards in Warri Federal Constituency with one Professor Rhoda Gumus a person who is of Ijaw ethnic extraction, the same ethnic extraction with one of the 3 stakeholder groups in the Warri Federal Constituency. This the Plaintiffs contends is a breach of the rule of fair hearing and the value of neutrality as espoused by INEC in its Manual for its officers.

When the Motion Ex-parte came up for hearing, the Counsel to the Plaintiff Chief Robinson Ariyo opposed the attempt by E. K. Omare, Esq., to announce appearance for the Persons seeking to be joined as Defendants. Chief Ariyo argued; “Even though E. K. Omare, Esq., who was seeking to join the Ijaws to the suit has filed an application for joinder, it is an aberration for him to seek to participate in an Ex-parte proceedings, for one, the Ijaws are not yet parties and even if they were, the nature of an Ex-parte application does not tolerate the participation of a notional Respondent as the very meaning of Ex-parte excludes an adversary”. Chief Ariyo’s objection was upheld by the court and E. K. Omare, Esq., was accordingly excluded from the proceedings.

The Court then heard arguments on the application form Chief Robinson Ariyo and ruled; “Ex-parte applications are rarely granted these days as they are meant for really extreme situations and circumstances, I will instead direct that the Respondents be put on notice. I accordingly refuse the application for an interim order, I hereby order that the Respondents be put on notice for arguments to be heard on both sides. The case is adjourned to 16th July, 2024 for hearing of the Motion on Notice”. Chief Robinson Ariyo expressed gratitude to the court and promised to ensure that INEC is placed on notice for the arguments to be heard on the adjourned date.

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