A law suit instituted between the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Professor Ignatius Uduk over alleged electoral fraud during the 2019 general election in Akwa Ibom State was yesterday adjourned.
A .High Court 4 in Uyo, the state capital, adjourned the case following objections raised against the legal representation of INEC.
Professor Uduk was dragged to court for allegedly committing electoral malpractice in his area of supervision during the election.
The presiding Judge, Justice Archibong Archibong, adjourned the case to July 19, 2021, to enable INEC respond on point of law to its decision to withdraw the letter introducing Clement Onwenwunor as the principal counsel representing the commission in the case.
Counsel to the accused, Abasiodiong Ekpenyong, had opposed the replacement of Kpoobari Sigalo with Clement Onwenwunor, who had in previous sitting presented a letter to the court introducing himself as the lead counsel for INEC.
Ekpenyong argued that the document filed by the prosecution was not done as known to law and provided for by the Akwa Ibom State criminal law.
He said the fiat was authorised by the Attorney General of the state instead of the federal government, saying INEC was a federal agency.
Ekpenyong argued that since the Attorney General of the state issued the fiat for the prosecution, he usurped the powers of the Attorney General of the Federation, and as such, there was no charge before the court, and asked that the case to be dismissed.
In his response, counsel to INEC, Clement Onwenwunor, told the court to adopt the rejoinder filed on July 12, 2021, in respect to the objection, adding that counsel to the accused did not cite the law that was bridged.
He said since the objection to his fiat was presented verbally, he also responded verbally, noting that if the court considered the submissions of the accused, it should also consider his own.
Onwenwunor further stated that the objection that the fiat must be obtained from the Attorney General of the Federation was not correct, adding that the powers of the AG of the federation, according to the 1999 Constitution as amended, can be exercised at any time.
He argued that he does not need a fiat from the AG of the federation as the state can authorise a private practitioner.
After submissions from both counsel, the court accepted the fiat sent in by INEC’s counsel, but counsel to the accused opposed the acceptance on the premise that the name of the practitioner was not stated in the letter.
Accordingly, counsel to INEC sought the withdrawal of the letter for proper filing, and the court granted the request.