Justice Adeniyi Ademola of a Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday rejected the move by the Deputy Senate President, Mr. Ike Ekweremadu, to stop him from delivering his reserved judgment in a suit challenging the leadership election of the 8th Senate.
Justice Ademola declared on Wednesday that he would go ahead to deliver his judgment on a date which he would later communicate to the parties through their lawyers except if the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, directs otherwise.
“The court, having adopted parties’ written addresses on December 14, 2015, will give its judgment on a date that will be communicated to parties through their counsel unless the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court directs otherwise,” Ademola ruled while adjourning the case on Wednesday.
The elections which produced Dr. Bukola Saraki as the Senate President and Ekweremadu as his deputy are being challenged by five senators of the All Progressives Congress on the grounds that their (Saraki and Ekweremadu’s) elections on June 9, 2015, when the 8th Senate was proclaimed, was conducted using a forged version of the Senate Standing Orders.
The plaintiffs in the suit with reference number FHC/ABJ/CS/651/2015, are senators Abu Ibrahim, Kabir Marafa, Ajayi Boroffice, Olugbenga Ashafa and Suleiman Hunkuyi.
Ekweremadu is the second defendant in the suit.
The other defendants are Saraki, the National Assembly, and two clerks of the National Assembly.
While Saraki is of the APC like the plaintiffs, Ekweremadu is of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Four days after Justice Ademola heard the parties to the suit and reserved judgment in the case on December 14, 2015, Ekweremadu initiated a move to stop the court from delivering its verdict by levelling an allegation of bias against the judge via an application which he sent to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, asking for the reassignment of the case to another judge.
The Deputy Senate President, in his application dated December 17, 2015 which was filed on December 18, 2015, alleged that Justice Ademola was bias in the handling of the case due to his alleged closeness to the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Ekweremadu, also a lawyer, alleged further in the petition which he personally signed that the judge’s wife, Mrs. Olabowale Ademola, was recently appointed as the Head of Service in Lagos State due to his (Justice Ademola’s) relationship with Tinubu.
If Ekweremadu’s application against the Chief Judge succeeds, it would amount to starting the case, which had been heard and reserved for judgment, afresh before a new judge.
Incidentally, the APC had, in the past, accused Justice Ademola of being sympathetic to the PDP, following a judgment delivered by the judge in April 2014 in which he faulted the defection of 41 PDP lawmakers to the APC, saying that they (defectors) ought not to remain in the National Assembly.
The said suit was initiated by the PDP against the House of Representatives, its principal officers and the defecting legislators.
Wednesday’s proceedings before Justice Ademola were initially scheduled for parties to address the court on Ekwemadu’s application.
But the judge later said that the hearing was no longer necessary as he had resolved to deliver the judgment unless the Chief Judge directed him not to.
All the parties, including Ekweremadu, were represented by their lawyers on Wednesday.
But all the Senior Advocates of Nigeria representing all the defendants, including Ekweremadu’s lawyer, Mr. Patrick Iwueto (SAN), only sent their juniors to the proceedings on Wednesday.
Lead counsel for the plaintiffs, Chief Mamman Osuman (SAN), informed the court that he had filed a response to the application filed by Ekweremadu for the transfer of the case to another judge.
In the response dated January 19, 2016, Osuman described the content of Ekweremadu’s application as constituting an injury to the person of the judge and his wife.
The lawyer also accused Ekweremadu of lying about the court’s proceedings which he never attended for once.
He said, “It is highly regrettable and very unfortunate that a senator saddled with the responsibility of enacting laws for the country will, out of desperation, tell a blatant lie to scuttle justice and disparage the honour and integrity of a judge.”