The All Progressives Congress (APC) has objected to Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja hearing two suits seeking the disqualification of its candidates in the September 19 governorship election.
Both suits, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/758/2020 and FHC/ABJ/CS/839/2020, filed by Momoh Abdulrazak and Charles Udeh, are querying the qualification of the APC candidates Osagie Ize-Iyamu and Audu Ganiyu on the grounds of alleged discrepancies in Ganiyu’s names.
But, the APC in a petition to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, signed by its National Secretary, John Akpanudoedehe, wants the cases to be taken from Justice Taiwo.
In the petition dated August 20, the party accused Justice Taiwo of being close to Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, and queried the judge’s decision to abridge the time for parties to file processes in the cases.
At the mention of one of the cases yesterday, counsel to Ize-Iyamu, Roland Otaru (SAN) and APC’s lawyer, Ehiogie West-Idahosa, drew the judge’s attention to the petition and asked him to suspend proceedings pending when the chief judge acts on the petition.
Justice Taiwo told the lawyers to leave the petition for the CJ to handle, since the issue was administrative.
He added that the new practice direction of the court did not permit him to simply withdraw from the cases at the mention of a petition.
Upon the insistence by Otaru that he must stay proceedings to await the outcome of the petition, Justice Taiwo drew the lawyer’s attention to a recent directive by the National Judicial Council (NJC) that, in pre-election cases, a judge against whom a petition is written, shall not halt proceedings until otherwise directed by the council.
On realising that they were heading nowhere, counsel to the defendants applied for adjournment to enable them react to issues raised in the suit and for the plaintiffs to move a pending motion for the hearing of the case during vacation.
Justice Taiwo then adjourned till September 3 for hearing.