A Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State has granted an order seeking the leave of the court to amend an originating summons in a suit filed by an aspirant, Prof Benard Odoh, challenging the outcome of the September 30 and October 1, 2018 primary election of the All Progressives Congress, which declared Senator Sonni Ogbuoji as the candidate of the party in Ebonyi State.
Odoh, who had served as a former Secretary to the Ebonyi State Government before resigning from the Governor David Umahi-led PDP government, officially joined the ruling APC on August 4, 2018 and contested the party’s ticket alongside seven others. He emerged as the first runner-up after polling 519 votes against the 785 votes polled by Ogbuoji.
Alleging widespread irregularities with claims that the delegates’ lists in two out of the 13 local government areas in the state, (Ikwo and Ezza South), were falsified, Odoh had on October 19, 2018 filed a suit praying the court to declare him as the winner of the election.
The suit with the number – FHC/AI/CS/50/2018 – has the APC; the Chairman of the APC Governorship Primary Election Committee for the state, Senator Domingo Obende; the Independent National Electoral Commission; and Ogbuoji as the first, second, third and fourth defendants respectively.
The court had on December 14, 2018 granted an order for an accelerated hearing and abridgment of time to meet up with the 180 days deadline provided for in the Fourth Alteration to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
It had after listening to arguments by counsel for the plaintiff and the defendants adjourned for ruling.
The lead counsel for the plaintiff, K. C. Nwufo (SAN), had listed the grounds for the application to amend the originating summons to include that it was necessary for the purpose of effective presentation and prosecution of the matter.
“That the plaintiff/applicant had earlier filed a further affidavit of facts and annexed the said documents and sought the leave of this court to regularise same as a process before this court, but this court refused the application after opposition by the defendants in the suit,” the motion paper stated.
Delivering a ruling which lasted for about 40 minutes, Justice Phoebe Ayua granted leave to the plaintiff to amend the originating summons and accompanying processes dated October 16, 2018.
Justice Ayua agreed with the submissions of Nwufo, who had cited some Supreme Court authorities and held that contrary to the position of the lead counsel for the first and second defendants, J. O. Ibik (SAN), a new course of action would not be introduced.
Counsel for parties in the matter all appreciated the Justice Ayua for the decision. The case was adjourned to Monday, February 18, 2019 for hearing.
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