The Labour Party has expressed fear over plots by some political opponents to truncate its presidential flagbearer, Peter Obi from contesting the 2023 election under its banner on legal grounds even as it calls on the Chief Justice of Nigeria to urgently intervene to avoid desecration of the principles of justice.
Principal Counsel to Labour Party, Lucky U. Odigie in a letter to the CJN believed that Justice I.E Ekwo may have been compromised over the case with SUIT NO: FHC/ABJ/CS/1636/2021; CHIEF CALISTUS OKAFOR V. BARR. JULIUS ABURE & 13 ORS pointing out that the urgency with which the Judge is presiding over the case after over 6 months of dormancy is suspicious.
According to him, “The said suit was incepted by way of an Originating Summons as far back as 23rd December 2021, praying this Court (Per Honourable Justice I.E Ekwo) for the reliefs contained on the face of the Originating Summons. Due to a manifest lack of diligent prosecution on the part of the Plaintiff, the suit remained dormant in the docket of the Court with no progress whatsoever for well over Six (6) months. In a rather strange turn of events, the matter was seemingly resuscitated on the 30th of May 2022, which coincidentally was the same day that the presidential primary election of the Labour Party was conducted.
“On the said 30th day of May, Honourable Justice I.E Ekwo heard and granted a motion ex parte empowering the Plaintiff to serve the Defendants via substituted means. After the grant of the motion ex parte, Honourable Justice I.E Ekwo proceeded to adjourn the matter to the 30th of June 2022 for further mention, in a clear bid to accommodate the 30 day period stipulated for the Defendants to file their processes in response to the Originating processes of the Plaintiff. A Certified True Copy of the Order of Honourable Justice I.E Ekwo made on the 30th of May 2022 is herein annexed for your kind perusal.
“The Defendants were served with the Originating processes of the Plaintiff, along with the order of Honourable Justice I.E Ekwo adjourning the matter to 30th June for further mention. However, to the utmost shock of the Defendants, the matter came up on the 15th of June 2022, and was slated for report of service.
“It must again be noted that by the Rules of the Federal High Court, the parties are entitled to be intimated of any change in any pre fixed date, but this was openly disregarded by Honourable Justice I.E Ekwo.
“Some of the Defendants, who were not served with any hearing notice, got wind of the sudden change in date. During the course of proceedings, and for no apparent or justifiable reason whatsoever, the Honourable Court mandated the Defendants to file and serve their response to the Plaintiff’s Originating Summons within 24 Hours, after which he adjourned the matter to the very next day being the 16th of June 2022 for hearing, despite the fact that not all the Defendants were present in Court particularly the 5th Defendant, the Honourable Court went on to fix the matter for hearing on the 16th of June 2022, effectively abridging the time stipulated by the Rules of the Federal High Court suo motu without affording the parties the opportunity to be heard.
“It must be reiterated that this instant suit has been pending before Honourable Justice I.E Ekwo since the 23rd of December 2021, with no form of urgency ever displayed by either the Plaintiff or the Court. Thus, the sudden urgency and expeditious approach being applied to the said suit has undoubtedly raised some eye brows and has deeply shaken the faith which the 5th Defendant have in Honourable Justice I.E Ekwo to dispassionately and judiciously administer justice in the circumstance.
“Furthermore, the Defendants particularly the 5th Defendant have received reliable information that due to its growing influence in the political hemisphere, the opposition political parties have, in consonance with Honourable Justice I.E Ekwo who is now compromised, resorted to employing this suit as a medium with which to jeopardize the political ambitions of Peter Obi”.