The All Progressive Congress (APC) has petitioned three justices of the Supreme Court over the Imo North Senatorial District bye-election held on December 5, 2021.
This development moved the apex court to suspend indefinitely, hearing in the appeal brought before it by Francis Ibezim over the Imo North Senatorial District bye-election.
When the appeal was called for hearing on Tuesday, Justice Muhammed Musa Datijo, who led a five-member panel of justices of the apex court, informed counsel in the matter that the proceeding will not go on as scheduled.
He said the interim chairman of the APC and the governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni had written a petition against him and two other justices, Helen Ogunwumiju and Abdu Aboki, accusing them of having a meeting with members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to subvert justice in the case.
He said the APC alleged that: “My humble self had led my two brothers to attend a meeting with members of the PDP to strategize how to subvert the outcome of this case.
“I must say that this is most unfortunate and my heart bleeds for this country. If people as highly placed as the interim chairperson of the APC would open his mouth and make this weighty statement against innocent justices of this court, then I say my heart bleeds.
“We are not interested in any matter and I challenge him and the party to substantiate his allegation that my humble self attended a meeting with members of the PDP with a view to subverting the interest of their party.
“This is a reckless and irresponsible statement. That is how these useless statements were made in the past and that is why we are not taking it likely.
“If they have honour, let them substantiate their allegations and I will not leave a day longer in this court.
“So, this matter is adjourned sine-die (Indefinitely) and parties should approach the Chief Justice of the Federation,” Justice Datijo stated.
Responding, Ahmed Raji (SAN), counsel to Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, a senatorial aspirant, said he was shocked to hear about the allegations made against the Justices.
According to the senior lawyer, “this is very shocking. I swear with my last day in this court that I, Ahmed Raji, know nothing about this issue and I condemn it with all the strength in me.
“I sympathise with your lordships and whatever measure your lordship deems appropriate, we are fully in support,” Raji stated.
Umeh Kalu, counsel to the APC said he was just hearing of the petition for the first time, noting that, “I am taken aback by this. I have never in my life met with the interim chairman of the APC.
“In matters of this nature, we normally deal with the legal adviser. In the first place, PDP is not a party in this matter,” he said.
Ifeanyi Ararume and Francis Ibezim, both members of the APC have been in a legal battle over the seat of the senator representing the Imo North Senatorial District in the Senate.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared APC as the winner of the bye-election but refused to announce any person as the authentic candidate of the party on the grounds of conflicting court orders for and against the two major contenders.
However, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, of a Federal High Court in Abuja, on March 18, 2021, ordered INEC to issue Ararume with the certificate of return.
The suit before the apex court is that which seeks to upturn the judgment of Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja and that of the Court of Appeal which nullified Ibezim’s candidature on the grounds that he made a false declaration in the documents he submitted to INEC.