The Supreme Court of Nigeria has on Tuesday adjourned hearing on an appeal filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the December 5, 2020, Imo North Senatorial District bye-election, Francis Ibezim.
The adjournment was sequel to a petition by the leadership of the APC against three Justices of the Apex court.
The APC in the petition signed by its Interim National Chairman, and Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, accused Justices Mohammed Dattijo, Abdu Aboki and Helen Ogunwumiju of allegedly holding nocturnal meetings with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to award the opposition party the Imo North Senate seat.
Buni allegedly claimed that information available to the APC indicated that the three Justices met with leaders of the PDP and allegedly perfected a plot to allot the senatorial seat to its candidate in the election which is still in dispute.
When Ibezim’s appeal against his disqualification by a High Court and Court of Appeal was to be heard, Justice Dattijo announced the suspension of proceedings pending the resolution of the damaging petition.
Dattijo, who led a five-man panel of the apex court, said, “Let me confirm to all counsel in this matter that the Interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress has written a petition against me and two other Justices of this court, namely: Helen Ogunwumiju and Abdu Aboki, accusing us of having a meeting with members of the Peoples Democratic Party to subvert justice in the case.”
He said the APC alleged that “my humble self had led my two brothers to attend a meeting with members of the PDP to strategise on how to subvert the outcome of this case. I must say that this is most unfortunate and my heart bleeds for this country.”
He added, “If people as highly placed as the interim chairperson of the APC would open his mouth and make this weighty statement against innocent Justices of this court, then I say my heart bleeds.
“We are not interested in any matter and I challenge him and the party to substantiate his allegation that my humble self attended a meeting with members of the PDP with a view to subverting the interest of their party.
“This is a reckless and irresponsible statement. That is how these useless statements were made in the past and that is why we are not taking it lightly.”
Counsel for Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, Malam Ahmed Raji (SAN), while dissociating himself from the petition, said, “This is very, very shocking. I swear with my last day in this court that I, Ahmed Raji, knows nothing about this issue and I condemn it with all the strength in me. I sympathise with your lordships and whatever measure your lordship deems appropriate, we are fully in support.”
The lawyer to the APC, Umeh Kalu, also said, “I am taken aback by this. I have never in my life met with the interim chairman of the APC. In matters of this nature, we normally deal with the legal adviser. In the first place, PDP is not a party in this matter.”