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Justice Abang adjourns hands off Ondo PDP ticket suit, returns case file

By Wahab Akanji, Abuja

A Federal High Court judge, Okon Abang has disqualified himself from a case between businessman Jimoh Ibrahim and former Kaduna state governor, Ahmed Makarfi on the vexed issue of the governorship ticket of the Ondo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In a ruling on an interlocutory application filed by Ibrahim on Thursday on the conduct of the primary election by the Makarfi led faction of the PDP, Abang said he was only assigned to hear the matter because he is a vacation judge.

Ibrahim had in a suit asked the court to stop the Ahmed Makarfi-led caretaker committee from conducting its party primary election for Ondo state on August 22.

Abang however said following the end of the annual judicial vacation on Friday, September 9, he would have to refer the case file to the chief judge of the Federal High Court for reassignment.

Abang’s decision to send the file for reassignment is because he is standing in as a vacation judge, his own vacation starts on Monday, September 12.

Abang said the time left for him to preside over matter is less than a week.

Optionally, Abang also said the defendant “may” within seven days file a counter affidavit on the application or the plaintiff “may” seek leave of the court on the matter.

Earlier on, counsel to the plaintiff, O. Oyelami prayed the court for a short adjournment for hearing on the motion of injunction and interlocutory application filed by his team.

He also prayed the court to – within its discretion – allow his team adopt their processes on the matter.

But in his objection counsel to PDP Ifedayo Adedipe said since the plaintiff claims to have adhered to substituted service as ordered by the court, progress can only be made on the matter if the court is satisfied by all verifiable evidence of compliance.

Adedipe however told the court to consider the letters of Order 7 sub rule 1 of the Federal High Court procedure rule, 2009.

He said: “A defendant served shall within 30 days be allowed to enter his appearance before the court.” Adedikpe said, while he does not object to an adjournment as proposed by the plaintiff, he expects the court to allow the defendants 30 days to make its appearance.

He further said, he expected Ibrahim’s counsel to draw the attention of the court to the fact that his interlocutory application being served has been overtaken by events – the already conducted party primary election by Makarfi faction in Ondo state.

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