Drama As INEC Counsel Disappears In Court

Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), NigeriaThere was a mild drama at the Court of Appeal, Ibadan, yesterday as counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr. F.E. Abbe suddenly disappeared without notifying the court.

He was scheduled to appear as counsel to the 2nd to 37th respondents (INEC) in the appeal filed by Mr. Johnson Oyebamiji Akinremi of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the election of Hon Ipoola Binuyo of the Action Congress (AC) who represents the Ife North state constituency in the Osun State House of Assembly.

When the case was mentioned, Abbe was not available to enter his appearance.

When the matter came up for mentioning, Justice Dattijo Muhammad asked who was the counsel representing INEC.

Counsel to the PDP, Mr. Remi Abimbola rose and told the court that the INEC counsel was F.E. Abbe who was in court earlier.

Justice Muhhammad confirmed seeing Abbe earlier and queried his where about.

Abimbola, counsel to the PDP again told the court that Abbe was ill adding that he had been mandated to ask one of the counsel appearing with him to hold his brief.

This prompted the panel chairman to again query why the INEC counsel should leave without informing the court.

The court was to have listened to the adoption of written addresses on the notice of preliminary objection filed by the Action Congress (AC).

The two-ground preliminary objection was contending that Mr. Tewo Lamuye, Counsel for INEC from Otunba Kunle Kalejaye’s chambers who appeared for the 2nd to 37th respondents at the lower tribunal also signed and filed the appeal filed by Akinremi of the PDP.

This act by Lamuye, in the contention of Binuyo, was in clear violation of the provision of the law.

Counsel to the respondent, Mr. Tajudeen Abdulwahab, also contended that Lamuye had held brief for INEC to defend Binuyo’s election at the lower tribunal.

He observed that it was strange that the same Lamuye not only signed the appeal brought by the PDP against Binuyo, he was said to have filed it in the court registry.

Furthermore, the AC’s counsel argued that the application by his client was to challenge the competence of Akinremi’s appeal stressing that it is not the law that the counsel who appeared for INEC, one of the respondents at the lower tribunal should now appear for the appellant, the PDP.

Abdulwahab posited that when an appeal is filed, both the appellant’s counsel and the appellant are both co-appellants.

When it was clear that Abbe was not available, the court adjourned till March 23, 2009.

Speaking to journalists later, Abdulwahab stated that since the appeal was filed, INEC was yet to file any papers.

According to him, INEC as the umpire in the poll, was supposed to defend the exercise any time it is challenged adding that what Abbe and Lamuye have dome suggested alleged collusion between IN EC and the PDP.

The case has been adjourned till March 23, 2009 when INEC is expected to be represented in court.

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