The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has awarded a fine against Kola Abiola, the presidential candidate, People’s Redemption Party (PRP), over failure to file his court documents within time.
Justice Fadima Aminu, in a ruling, also fined the PRP over its delay in filing its counter affidavit in opposition to the aggrieved presidential aspirant’s amended originating summons.
Ms Aminu had fixed November 25 for a definite hearing in a suit filed by Patience Ndidi Key, a female presidential aspirant in the June 5 primary election conducted by the party.
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The judge, who granted the application filed by Ms Key to amend her originating summons on November 18, ordered all parties to file their processes before the next adjourned date and adjourned to Friday for a definite hearing.
Ms Key had, on June 28, sued PRP, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and Mr Abiola as first, second and third defendants, respectively.
In her earlier originating summons marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1001/2022, Ms Key had challenged the emergence of Mr Abiola as the party’s presidential candidate.
She had prayed the court to nullify the poll that produced Mr Abiola as the PRP’s presidential candidate.
She also prayed for an order setting aside the declaration of Mr Abiola as the winner of the primaries conducted across the country.
Upon resumed hearing in the matter, the plaintiff‘s counsel, Magnus Ihejirika, informed that the matter was adjourned for a definite hearing.
Mr Ihejirika, however, said the defence lawyers were yet to serve on him their counter-affidavits to enable him to respond appropriately.
The lawyer to the first defendant (PRP), Regina Audu, explained that there was network failure on Thursday at the FHC filing office when she tried to file her application.
The lawyer, who said she could only do that on Friday, prayed the court for an adjournment.
Ijeoma Madu, who appeared for Mr Abiola, spoke in the same vein.
But Mr Ihejirlrika described the defence counsel’s act as “a deliberate attempt to stall proceedings in the suit.”
The lawyer, who said the case was filed on June 28, said, “time is of essence in its determination.”
He said by provision of the constitution, the court had only 180 days to dispose of the matter, saying practically now, the court has less than a month to have the case determined
He argued that the defendants were only employing a delay tactic to stall the hearing and determination of the suit.
Mr Ihejirika, who told the court that he comes to the court from Kebbi, said if the court would be inclined to grant the defence application, a cost should be imposed.
He asked for a cost of N200,000.
The defence counsel, who disagreed with him, prayed the court to dismiss the request.
In her ruling, Ms Aminu said an award of cost should not be a punishment but compensation.
The judge, consequently, ordered the PRP (first defendant) and Mr Abiola (third defendant) to pay the sum of N20, 000 each to the plaintiff’s counsel.
She adjourned the matter until December 2 for a definite hearing.