Judge expresses displeasure over absence of INEC lawyers

JUSTICE Babagana Ashigar of a  Federal High Court in Birnin Kebbi, expressed his displeasure over the absence of INEC lawyers in a pre-election matter before him.

Malam Umar Mohammed-Jega dragged his party, the APC, Alhaji Kabiru Labbo-Jega and INEC seeking the court to declare him winner of the primaries conducted on May 27 by the APC.

Justice  Ashigar expressed worry that there was the counsel did not communicate with the court registry as to why he was absent.

”INEC is the statutory body that will assist the court in determining these pre-election matters, especially political party primaries.

“INEC is mandated to monitor political parties’ primaries to authenticate the winner and have their report documented,” he said.

He said the commission needed not to be selective in appearing before the court.

”The commission should be neutral in discharging their responsibilities,” the judge said.

In another case involving; Halima Hassan-Tukur, The APC, Yusuf Tanko-Sununu and INEC, counsel to INEC were also absent.

However, after counsel to the plaintiff and other defendants began adopting their final written addresses and preliminary objections, counsel to INEC, Ahmad Bello-Mahmud, announced his appearance.

The court sought for explanation on the absence of INEC in the two cases.

Bello-Mahmud, who is also the INEC Residence Electoral Commissioner in Kebbi, said he was only appearing in the Shehu Mohammed-Bello vs Shehu Mohammed-Koko, APC and INEC and that of Halima Hassan-Tukur vs APC, Yusuf Tanko-Sununu and INEC matter.

He said he was not aware that counsel to INEC absconded in some cases, assuring that he would notify the INEC headquarters being the resident electoral commissioner in the state.

The resident electoral commissioner apologised for his late coming as well as absence of counsel in other cases.

The judge adjourned the case until Aug. 29 for opening of defence. (NAN)