Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Wike v. Atiku: Case adjourned as lawyer comes down with stomach upset

Mr Okoi, who entered his name on the cause list earlier in the day, could not be found when the matter was called for hearing.

• September 14, 2022
Governor Nyesom Wike and Atiku Abubakar
Governor Nyesom Wike and Atiku Abubakar

Michael Ekamon, the 1st plaintiff in a suit filed in conjunction with Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers against Atiku Abubakar, has said that their lawyer, Wilfred Okoi, was not in court because he was indisposed.

Mr Ekamon told Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on Wednesday, upon resumed hearing in the suit challenging Mr Atiku’s emergence as Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s candidate for the 2023 presidential election.

Mr Okoi, who entered his name on the cause list earlier in the day, could not be found when the matter was called for hearing.

Though Mr Ekamon was in court in person, Mr Wike was not.

Mr Ekamon, a member of the party, and Wike are 1st and 2nd plaintiffs respectively in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/782/22 dated June 2 and filed on June 3.

While the PDP is the 1st defendant, the Independents National Electoral Commission (INEC), Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and Mr Atiku are 2nd to 4th defendants respectively.

Mr Wike, in the suit, sought among other prayers, the court’s pronouncement declaring him the PDP’s presidential candidate for the 2023 election.

He had faulted the process that produced Mr Atiku as the party’s candidate in the primary conducted recently.

But the PDP and others, in their application filed by their counsel, Adeyemi Ajibade, SAN, urged the court to dismiss the suit as it was unknown to law and not cognisable under a pre-election matter.

When the matter was called and Mr Okoi’s whereabouts was not known, Justice Mohammed asked Mr Ekamon why their counsel was not in court despite entering his name for appearance.

Mr Ekamon said Mr Okoi “ran serious stomach upset.”

According to him, he (Okoi) was in court this morning and he complained of a running stomach and he had to be rushed down for medication.

“I insisted that he (Okoi) stays but he said we should rush him down,” he added.

“We wish him a quick recovery. We are all human beings and prone to getting sick at any giving time,” Mr Mohammed said

The judge then asked him what would be his prayer since his lawyer was not in court.

“I pray the court to give us a little time so that he can get well and continue with the matter,” he responded.

Counsel for the PDP and Mr Tambuwal, Mr Ajibade, who doubles as party’s National Legal Adviser, did not oppose the request.

“I have listened to the request of the 1st plaintiff. The reason for the absence of his counsel borders on ill health.

“We don’t need to go verifying. It can happen to anybody as my lord has said.

“But I want the court to take notice because this is a pre-election matter of which time is of the essence,” he said.

The judge adjourned the matter until October 7.

Earlier, lawyer to Mr Atiku, Mahmud Magaji, SAN, did not oppose Mr Ekamon’s application.

No counsel appeared for INEC.

Mr Mohammed had, on August 31, fixed today for the hearing of the matter.

Messrs Atiku, Tambuwal and PDP had challenged the suit.

The trio, in a notice of preliminary objection marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/782/22 dated and filed on August 5, sought an order striking out or dismissing the suit for want of jurisdiction.

They argued that Mr Ekamon, who is the 1st applicant, having not participated in the primary election conducted by the National Executive Committee of the party lacked the requisite locus standi to institute the suit.

Mr Wike came second behind Atiku in the party’s presidential primary election held in May.

Mr Tambuwal, who was also a presidential aspirant, stepped down for Mr Atiku at the last minute.

Although Mr Wike had recently denied filing any suit against the party and its presidential candidate, the matter is still pending in court.


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