BY ADAMU JEGIRE
The move by President Muhammadu Buhari’s in-law ,Dr Halilu Modi to wrest the gubernatorial ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has suffered a temporary setback as Federal High Court judge Yola division, Justice Abdulaziz Anka announced his withdrawal from the case on personal grounds adding that he would return the case to the chief judge of the Federal High Court for re-assignment to another judge
Governor Muhammadu Umaru Jibirilla Bindow was alleged to have forged his Secondary school certificate, prompting a rights group, Global Crusade Integrity Network (GICN) to file a case before an Abuja Federal High Court in September last year claiming that the governor was using a forged certificate.
Had the move by the rights group to get the governor indicted for using a fake certificate sails through, Buhari’s In-law, popularly known as Modi, would have been the major beneficiary having emerged the first runner up in the highly disputed party primaries.
The case was initially filed before an Abuja Federal High Court presided by Justice B. O Kadri who granted the plaintiff’s plea for accelerated hearing in October last year. But the case was subsequently transferred to Yola where the first respondent resides.
Justice Anka’s decision to Jettison the case had rattled many in the court especially Modi’s supporters who thought today’s sitting will mark a death knell on Bindow’s hope to stage a second term bid while supporters of the governor where apparently overwhelmed by ecstasy as their principal got another reprieve.
“Justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done,” Anka said, reiterating that after hearing from the counsels and reviewing what had become apparent, he was uncomfortable about continuing with the case.
Reacting to the withdrawal of Justice Anka from the case, the chief counsel to Governor Bindow, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), told newsmen that his client was ready to follow the case to anywhere it may be taken.
“As we said in the open court, we are ready for the hearing in the case to continue, but the judge recused himself from the case and it is being sent back to Abuja. Wherever they take us, we will go,” he said.
He added however that the case lacked merit and had no chance of going far. “From when this case was first filed in Abuja, we raised the objection that the plaintiff (GICN) is an artificial person who has no locus standi to institute the case. The plaintiff was not an aspirant and is not a citizen of Adamawa State and has no business challenging Bindow as the candidate of the APC for the forthcoming election,” Uche asserted.
Responding in a separate interview with newsmen, the counsel to GICN, Edward Omaga, said the Global Intergriry Crusade Network is an advocacy group registered by Nigeria’s Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to carry out its functions for or against persons and organisations anywhere across the country, and could therefore not be said to lack locus standi in the suit against the Adamawa State governor.