By: Valentine Adese:
The federal high court sitting in Jos, the Plateau State capital today, has ordered Hon. Abdul Saleh, Hon. Baba Hassan, All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to call oral evidence to prove their case in suit No. FHC/J/CS/20/2015.
You would recall that the matter was earlier fixed for 6th July 2016 for ruling, but the court could not sit owing to the public holidays declared by the federal government.
You also recall that Hon. Saleh is challenging the qualification of Hon. Hassan to contest the House of Assembly election in the 2015 general election.
In its ruling today, the court struck out the Preliminary Objection (P.O) filed by Hon. Baba Hassan for being premature, as it ventured into the facts of the case.
The presiding Judge, Hon. Justice Musa Kuray, said, “I don’t see any substance in the P.O.”
Justice Musa, held that the matter though commenced by way of Originating Summons, has become substantially contentious and robbed with lots of conflicting documents and Newspaper publications.
He therefore ordered that, “Parties are to call witnesses to prove their case.”
The matter is adjourned to 11th October, 2016 for hearing.
Reacting to the ruling at the court premises, the counsel to the Plaintiff, David C. Ibeawchi, said, “We are happy that the judge has applied the law in the appropriate manner. The Judge delivered a very sound ruling. As you can see, everybody is happy!”
“I am barrister David C. Ibeawchi, the Counsel to the Plaintiff.
“We have argued severally that when a matter becomes contentious, where there is Oath against Oath, affidavit and counter affidavits on facts and other averment, the Court usually orders the parties to call oral evidence to come and resolve these issues. But, the Counsel on the other side, the learned Senior Advocate, was rather asking the Court to dismiss the matter in its entirety.
“So, we are happy that the judge has applied the law in the appropriate manner. The Judge delivered a very sound ruling. As you can see, everybody is happy!
“This matter, when oral evidence is called, the entire issue would be resolved. Somebody cannot just go to the Newspaper House and publish something there and another would bring another publication countering it.
“There has to be an end to litigation! We believe that the justice of this case would be met by calling oral evidence and that is just the ruling of the court. They have a right to appeal the ruling the right is waiting for them.
“By the time we file our statement of claim, if they have a tangible defence, they would file their statement of defence.
“Then, parties would call evidence, by calling witnesses to come and prove our case. We believe we can prove our case with the evidence that we have. It is now left for them to defend the action and also call their witnesses to give oral evidence to prove their defence.
“The matter was originally commenced by way of Originating Summons, now the Court has converted it to Writ of Summons. The practice is for parties to file statement of claim, file list of witnesses, witness statements on oath among other processes.”