A Federal High Court Judge, Justice Toyin Adegoke today frowned at, and expressed displeasure against the attitude of the court bailiff in not serving the plaintiff’s lawyer the statement of defense in the case in which Delta State factional Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Cyril Ogodo is seeking that the APC and its National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole be restrained from submitting the list of candidates from the Prophet Jones Erue faction of the party.
The judge expressed her disgust after counsel to the plaintiff, Barrister O.J. Oghenejakpor complained and accused the defense of making subterranean moves to frustrate and truncate the court proceedings.
Oghenejakpor told the court that the bailiff told him that the defense team prevailed on him to serve the statement of the 1st defendant on the plaintiff’s counsel late.
He said: “At about 8.55 a.m., the bailiff called in my junior that he wants to serve the statement of the 1st defendant, it was brought to me. When I confronted him, he said the defense team told him to hold on to the application and serve the statement of defense today. It was deliberate that it was served today so that they can get an adjournment. The purport of the application is merely to truncate the trial. He wants to abort it by all means”.
Counsel to the first and second defendants, Niyi Akintola (SAN) raised an objection and accused the plaintiff’s counsel of making unguarded speech. “My Lord, he is making an unguarded speech. He is only making a reported speech,” Akintola said.
A curious Justice Adegoke then ordered that the bailiff and the registrar to be summoned to appear before the court. The bailiff who denied the allegation, pointing out that no financial provision was made available to him to serve the court’s process.
The bailiff’s statement was countered by the court registrar who told the court that indeed, approval was given for financial provision to cover the cost of service for three months. ,” I do not know what he (bailiff) means by there is no provision made to serve court processes,” the registrar said.
Apparently taken aback by the unfolding drama, Justice Adegoke asked, “What is the explanation for not serving the hearing notice served on 31st October along with the statement of defense on the plaintiff? This is not my first experience, so many of my cases have been truncated by bailiffs”.
Upon resumption of hearing, counsel to the 1st and 2nd defendant, Niyi Akintola (SAN) , argued that the case was not a pre-election matter as none of the plaintiffs are aspirants in any election.
“Our contention is that the objection raised should be taken first before the substantive suit, as our objections goes to the root of the suit,” Akintola said.
Justice Toyin Adegoke in her ruling noted that the order of the court made on October 17, 2018 subsists, and the held that both parties maintain the status quo till the substantive suit is heard.
She then adjourned continuation of hearing till November 13th, 2018.
But answering questions from journalists after the court ruling, Akintola (SAN) said the plaintiff in instituting the matter is an abuse of the court process, “We shall appeal this ruling,” he declared, adding: “This court has no jurisdiction to hear the matter.”
Also speaking to journalists, Barrister Oghenejakpor, counsel to Chief Cyril Ogodo, the plaintiff said if they feel aggrieved they can appeal, but noted that as at today, no list of candidates has been submitted to INEC, and that the implication of the ruling is that no list will be submitted until we hear this case. “Technically, the court has granted an injuction restraining any person to nominate any candidate from Delta State for the 2019 elections.”
It will be recalled that in a ruling on October 17, 2018, Justice Adegoke restrained the NatCommissionking Committee (NWC) of the APC from submitting the list of all party candidates for the 2019 election from Delta State to the Independent National Electoral Commssion (INEC).
Chief Cyril Ogodo led State Working Committee (SWC) in the State and others had instituted an interlocutory injunction restraining NWC of APC and the National Party chairman, Adams Oshiomhole from submitting the list of candidates from Prophet Jones Erue faction to INEC.
The National Chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole was joined in the suit as the 2nd respondent with All ProgressivesCongress (APC) as 1st respondent, the Independent National Electoral Commission and Prophet Jones Erue as the 3rd and 4th respondents respectively. and the plaintiffs, were ordered to maintain status quo and desist from submitting any list of candidates from Delta State by the two factions to INEC till the substantive suit filled is heard