A federal high court in Abuja has restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from conducting fresh election to fill the 14 seats declared vacant by the Edo house of assembly.
On December 4, Frank Okiye, speaker of Edo assembly, declared the seats of 14 elected lawmakers vacant for “failing to present their certificates of return to the clerk for inauguration”.
According to Okiye, the lawmakers-elect were excluded from the inauguration into office in June because they deliberately refused to do the necessary documentation.
Aggrieved by the development, the lawmakers-elect who are said to belong to the camp of Adams Oshiomhole, national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), proceeded to the court.
The lawmakers on December 10, 2019, filed a motion ex parte in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1582/19 seeking an order of interim injunction restraining INEC from conducting by-election pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
Ahmed Mohammed, the judge, had ordered Okiye, and INEC who are the first and second respondents in the suit, to come before the court to show cause why the interim injunction sought by the lawmakers-elect should not be granted.
However, the court adjourned the hearing till January 7.
At the court on Tuesday, Femi Adeyemi, counsel to INEC, acknowledged that the commission was served with all the processes.
Adeyemi said although the commission was served with the motion ex-parte, INEC chose to remain neutral in the case.
The judge held that based on provisions of order 26 rules 11, 12 and 13 of the federal high court civil procedure rules, 2019, INEC ought to have filed a documented response.
“What you are telling me here is evidence. I understand you very well. You file an affidavit that you want to be neutral,” the judge held.
“File an affidavit and explain there even if it is a two paragraphs, but not to stand at the bar and explain.”
Delivering his ruling, the judge ordered INEC not to take further step in the matter pending its determination.
He also directed the commission to file an affidavit in support of its position and to show cause why the interim injunction should not be granted before the next adjourned date.
The judge also ordered that a hearing notice should be served on the speaker of the Edo assembly who was not represented in court.
The matter has been adjourned till January 28.
The affected lawmakers are Victor Edoror, Washington Osifo, Vincent Uwadiae, Kingsley Ugabi, Michael Ohio-Ezomo, Sunday Aghedo and Chris Okaeben.
Others are Crosby Eribo, Aliyu Oshiomhole, Oshomah Ahmed, Ganiyu Audu, Ugiagbe Dumez, Uyi Ekhosuehi and Eric Okaka.
The other lawmakers, who were secretly innaugurated in June 2019, are said to be in the camp of Godwin Obaseki, governor of the state.
Obaseki and Oshiomhole are currently involved in the battle for the control of Edo APC.