The Supreme Court on Tuesday fixed October 31 for hearing in the appeal brought by the Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, challenging the decision of the Court of Appeal, Owerri Division to join his predecessor, Ikedi Ohakim in the appeal brought by Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, challenging the May 6, 2011 supplementary elections that brought Okorocha to power.
In the hearing presided over by Justice Tanko Muhammad, the apex court consolidated all the appeals brought by various parties in the suit arising from rulings from the Court of Appeal and granted the prayers of counsel in the suit for an extension of time, within which they are yet to file their brief of arguments.
With the consent of counsels in the suit: Wole Olanipekun for Ohakim; Onyechi Ikpeazu for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP); Joe Aji for Ararume; Niyi Akintola for Okorocha and Adegboyega Awomolo, the court went ahead to consolidate all the appeals, following an application by Ikpeazu for the court to consolidate appeals with numbers SC 485, 486, 487 and 488 of 2012 into one.
In his own specific appeal, Okorocha is challenging the decision of the Court of Appeal to allow Ohakim, who is the standard-bearer of the PDP in the 2011 governorship elections in Imo State to challenge the judgement of the Federal High Court, Owerri, which dismissed a case filed by the Action Congress of Nigeria and its candidate in the election, Senator Ifeanyi Ararume.
The suit had been dismissed by the high court on the grounds that the subject matter was a post-election dispute which ought to have been submitted to the election tribunal for adjudication.
Dissatisfied with the judgement, both the ACN and Ararume filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal in Owerri.
While the appeal was pending, Ohakim sought to join and asked that he be given an opportunity to challenge the judgement of the high court.
Okorocha had filed an objection to Ohakim’s application to join, but the Court of Appeal in a ruling delivered by Justice Hussein Mukhtar, dismissed the application and consequently made Ohakim an appellant in the case.
Still dissatisfied with the ruling, Okorocha through his counsel, Adeniyi Akintola, filed an appeal at the Supreme Court.
He argued in the appeal that Ohakim’s party, the PDP, had earlier challenged the subject matter of the suit at the election petition tribunal and lost, which they challenged up to the Supreme Court and still lost.
He further argued that allowing Ohakim to challenge the High Court’s judgement on appeal was to afford him the opportunity to pursue two remedies against the same infraction in two courts at the same time.
However, Ohakim, through his legal team led by Wole Olanipekun asked the court to dismiss the appeal on the grounds that Okorocha failed to obtain the leave of either the Court of Appeal, or that of the Supreme Court before filing the appeal.
Ohakim, therefore, asked the apex court to dismiss the suit.