BY REMILEKUN DARAMOLA in Maiduguri•
A Federal High Court in Maiduguri has fixed February 12 to hear the substantive suit in a case seeking the nullification of the candidature of the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Borno State, Prof. Babagana Zulum.
One of the aspirants at the primary of the party, Alhaji Idris Durkwa, has dragged the candidate, APC and INEC to court for the nullification of Zulum’s election, stating that it was flawed with irregularities.
The judge, Justice Jude Dagat on Thursday after quashing a plea to amend an originating summon filed before him by the aggrieved aspirant, fixed February 12 for the hearing of the substantive suit.
The trial judge in his reason for quashing the motion for a plea of amendment of originating summon, said that the application could cause delay in the proceedings, noting that time consideration was important in the determination of the case.
Dagat added that the court, in considerations of the point of law, would not grant the application and therefore dismissed it in the best interest of justice.
He said: “The law is well settled that the inherent power of the court to amend pleadings is not mechanically applied.
“Each case must be considered on its merit. The court must consider the attitude of the parties, the nature of the amendment sought in relation to the main suit, the question in controversy, the time factor, the stage at which the proceeding had reached, and indeed all the circumstances surrounding the case.
“Plaintiff in the present case did not wait to get his facts straight before filing the suit.
“He pre-emptied the contents of the Appeal Committee’s Report on the basis on which he filed the suit, which did not turn out as he expected, hence the present application which will invariably change the face of the suit and be overreaching on the defendants as issues have been joined.
“Perhaps, that is the reason why the plaintiff did not simply file further affidavit with the report of the Appeal Committee.”
He added that: “On 14th December, 2018, the case was adjourned to 17th January, 2019, for hearing, and the plaintiff only filed the application on 15th January, 2019; thereby further delaying the hearing of the matter.
“This is a suit where time is of essence. In the light of the foregoing considerations, it is not in the interest of justice to grant the present application. The application is lacking in merit and same is hereby dismissed,” Dagat, said in the light of this, the case is adjourned until February 12; for hearing.
The counsel to the plaintiff, Mr Ibrahim Bawa, had prayed a leave to amend the originating summon and present document based on the report of the APC Primary Election Appeal Committee, to support his case.
However, counsel to the respondent, Mr Yusuf Ali, opposed the application, arguing that the time frame for such amendment in pre-election and election matter had elapsed, adding that the application contravened section 285 (9) of the constitution.