Enugu APC insists on LGA Election in Court | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Enugu APC insists on LGA Election in Court

Posted: Feb 10, 2016 at 6:36 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)
By Emmanuel Nzomiwu
Enugu
A bid by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to stop a suit filed before an Enugu High Court by some members of All Progressives Congress (APC), challenging his appointment of caretaker committees for the 17 local governments and insisting on Local Government Council Election suffered a setback on Wednesday as the Court struck out a motion, seeking to withdraw names of some of the plaintiffs from the suit.
Following the expiration of the tenure of the elected council chairmen on January 5 this year, Governor Ugwuanyi had constituted a two-man caretaker committee to run the affairs of the councils pending the conduct of local government elections.

In the motion on notice with suit number E/362/2015, the APC members are seeking an order setting aside the appointment of the caretaker committees, insisting that it clearly contravened the constitution and should be upturned without further delay while council elections should be conducted forthwith.
When the matter came up yesterday before Justice Romanus Odugu of Enugu State High Court, Counsel to the plaintiffs, Mr. George Ogara argued that the notice of withdrawal is fraudulent as the person who filed it has failed to appear in court.
Ogara announced that he has a notice of preliminary objection, and supported by 23 paragraph affidavit, seeking to strike out the notice of withdrawal for lack of
jurisdiction.
Ogara said he was relying on the paragraph that “where an affidavit is unchallenged and uncontroverted, the court must act on it.
Making reference to the case of Nigerian Navy and two others, Ogara further submitted that “whenever the appearance of a counsel is being challenged, it is the duty of counsel to oppose same.”
The APC lawyer therefore urged the court to strike out the notice of withdrawal since the appearance of the counsel who filed it was being challenged.
Responding, the Attorney General of Enugu State, Miletus Eze who represented 20 out of the 23 defendants including Governor Ugwuanyi, the Enugu State House of Assembly and 17 LGAs, said he was not opposing the motion for striking out the notice of withdrawal, but striking out the affidavit.
Eze, who is equally a defendant, maintained that the notice of withdrawal and affidavit are two different processes and must be treated independently.
Eze further contended that the notice sought to be struck out made no reference to the affidavit.
Immediate past Attorney General of the State, Anthonyi Ani (SAN) who represented the 7th and 8th defendants, the State Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ikeje Asogwa and PDP respectively, aligned himself with the submissions of the incumbent Attorney General but added that His Lordship should apply the “blue pencil rule” by separating the notice of discontinuance and the supporting affidavit.
Ogara however countered the arguments of the defendants, arguing that a process based on fraud cannot be the basis on which a court can make a decision more so when the identity of the person who filed the process is in dispute.
The APC lawyer maintained that if his identity is in dispute, everything filed by him is in dispute and insisted that APC Enugu State is only demanding that Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria be obeyed.
In his ruling, Justice Odugu condemned the conduct of the said lawyer, F.G. Ani who filed the notice of withdrawal, pointing out that he never filed notice of change of counsel or appeared in court.
Odugu said it was obvious his conduct was meant to truncate the matter in court.
Citing order 23 Rule 1 (1) of the court, Justice odugu noted that the said lawyer did not comply with the rules of the court in seeking to strike out the names of the 10th and 12 to 17th claimants from the suit, stressing that names of the claimants cannot be withdrawn when they have not indicated interest.
Justice Odugu therefore ordered that the notice of withdrawal be struck out.
The Judge however upheld a motion to strike out the name of the Chairman of Enugu State Independent Electoral Commission (ENSIEC), Dr Bony Eneh, as he is an agent of a disclosed principal, party to the suit.
                              
Meanwhile, the Court adjourned hearing on the substantive matter for March 9.