A Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission not to go ahead with its plan to collate, conclude and announce the results of the governorship election in Bauchi State held on March 9.
The judge, Inyang Ekwo, made the order based on an ex-parte application filed by the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the incumbent governor of Bauchi State, Mohammed Abubakar.
The restraining order is to last till the determination of the suit brought before the court by the two plaintiffs.
In the ex-parte motion, the APC and Mr Abubakar prayed for an order of interim injunction restraining INEC from resuming, concluding or announcing the result of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of Bauchi State in respect of the governorship election.
The election was initially declared inconclusive by INEC due to incidents in Tafawa Balewa local government area.
INEC later announced it would go ahead with collating and completing the results sourced from backup result sheets, a move Mr Abubakar, who scored the second highest votes in results so far collated, rejected.
The governor wants supplementary polls to be conducted. On Monday, he met with President Muhammad Buhari and vowed to challenge INEC’s volte face in court.
Justice Ekwo had earlier ordered INEC to appear before the court on Tuesday to explain why the order sought by the two plaintiffs ought not to be granted.
The electoral body, represented by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Tanimu Inuwa, instead filed a motion challenging the court’s jurisdiction to hear the matter.
Objecting to the application of INEC, the counsel to the plaintiffs, Ahmed Raji, informed the court that the order issued on Monday asking the electoral body to show cause why the requests of the plaintiffs should not be granted had not been obeyed.
Mr Raji told the court that the business before the court was to determine whether the earlier order had been complied with.
Responding, Mr Inuwa admitted that the order had not been complied with and requested to address the court orally on the issue. His request was refused by the judge.
The court held that since the ex-parte application was in writing and duly served on INEC, it behoved of the defendant to appear before the court with a written or formal response.
In his bench ruling, the judge granted the interim injunction restraining INEC from resuming, concluding and announcing the governorship election result in the state pending the determination of all issues raised by the plaintiffs in their originating summons.
Mrs Ekwo also granted accelerated hearing on the matter and ordered parties to appear before the court on March 20 to present their positions in the substantive matter.