Lawyers were warned by the Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday not to engage in unethical conducts that would delay the hearing and judgment in the suit filed by the Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, against the Independent National Electoral Commission over his Certificate of Return.
The warning was issued by Justice Okon Abang while granting the application filed by the Peoples Democratic Party requesting to be joined in the suit as the 8th defendant.
Abang stated that the court would not entertain frivolous applications for adjournments, especially those seeking for extension of time with respect to procedural processes.
Although, Okorocha’s counsel, Mr. Kehinde Ogunwumiju SAN, had vehemently opposed the application by the PDP on the grounds that it was not a necessary party in the suit, Justice Abang gave the go-ahead.
In his statement, he said, “the right to fair hearing takes precedent over all other issues.”
“it is safer and neater to join PDP whether it is a necessary party or not because the decision reached by the court no matter how well grounded will become a nullity, and I don’t want to labour in vain.”
“I have considered the well articulated and persuasive arguments by respective counsel in this suit and the judicial authorities cited by them.”
“I am satisfied that this is a deserving case to join PDP. To decide otherwise will amount to denial of fair hearing and any decision reached by the court will be a nullity.”
“The application by the PDP succeed only in part. Prayer 1 and 4 are incompetent and are hereby struck out.”
“Prayer 2 and 3 succeed and it is hereby ordered that PDP be to join in the suit as the 8th defendant.”
“The plaintiff shall within two days from today, file further amended originating summons reflecting the joinder and should only comply with Order 17(6) of the rules of this court.”
“Since counsel to other defendants did not opposed the joinder application, upon filling the amended originating summons by the plaintiff, the 1st to 8th defendants shall apply to the registrar of the court to get the Certified True Copies (CTC) of the amended originating summons.”
“This order is made in other to save time and avoid issue of service. The court is departing from the provision of order 17 Rule (5) as the defendants are at liberty to apply for the originating summons on their own.”
“As regard the 8th defendant, it shall within two days apply and obtained Certified True Copies of the amended originating summons from the registrar and react to it if need be.”
“Upon service by the 8th defendant, the plaintiff is at liberty to respond even a day.”
Justice Abang explained that the abridgment of time by the court by Order 13 Rule 35(15) is made as a consequential order to enable the court do justice in the matter “effectively and effectually”.
“This court will not grant frivolous applications for adjournments and will not extend time for the procedural processes. The court shall hear and determine this case within reasonable time,”
The outgoing Governor of Imo State is challenging the decision of INEC to withdraw his Certificate of Return.