The Supreme Court has halted hearings in a case involving the Imo North senatorial bye-election, which took place on December 5, 2020.
When the appeal was called for hearing on Tuesday, Musa Datijo Muhammad, who presided over a five-member panel of justices, told counsel that the hearing would not take place as planned.
He claimed that the interim chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had filed a petition against him and two other justices, Helen Ogunwumiju and Abdu Aboki, for allegedly meeting with members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in order to subvert justice in the matter.
He said the APC alleged, that “my humble self had led my two brothers to attend a meeting with members of the PDP to strategize how to subvert the outcome of this case”.
“I must say that this is most unfortunate and my heart bleeds for this country,” he said.
“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 likely.
“If they have honour, let them substantiate their allegations and I will not leave a day longer in this court.
“So, this matter is adjourned sine die, and parties should approach the chief justice of the federation.”
Responding, Ahmed Raji, counsel to Ifeanyi Ararume, senatorial aspirant, said he was shocked to hear about the allegations made against the justices.
“This is 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,” he said.
“I sympathise with your lordships and whatever measure your lordship deems appropriate, we are fully in support.”
Umeh Kalu, counsel to the APC, said he was hearing of the petition for the first time.
“I am taken aback by this. I have never in my life met with the interim chairman of the APC,” Kalu said.
“In matters of this nature, we normally deal with the legal adviser.
“In the first place, PDP is not a party in this matter.”
Ararume and Francis Ibezim, both members of the APC, have been in a legal battle in a bid to become the senator representing Imo north senatorial district.
INEC had declared the APC as the winner of the bye-election but refused to announce any person as the authentic candidate of the party on the grounds of conflicting court orders for and against the two major contenders.
However, Taiwo Taiwo, judge of a federal high court in Abuja, on March 18, ordered INEC to issue Ararume with the certificate of return.
The suit before the apex court is that which seeks to upturn the judgment of Inyang Ekwo, federal high court judge, and that of the court of appeal which nullified Ibezim’s candidature on the grounds that he made false declaration in the documents he submitted to INEC.