Court orders substituted service on eight APC defectors in Edo

The Federal High Court in Benin has granted an order authorising a politician, Emankhu Addeh, to serve by substituted means eight Edo State House of Assembly lawmakers who defected from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Justice Chuka Obiozor gave the order on June 30, 2021, following Addeh’s March 31, 2021 motion ex parte.

Addeh is challenging the lawmakers’ defection to the  PDP and is seeking, among others, a declaration that they had forfeited their seats because of their defection.

The first to 10th defendants are: Ojiezele Osezua Sunday, Onobun Marcus Iziegbeaya, Okiye Francis Abumere, Okoduwa Emmanuel Ewah, Aluebhosele Ephraim, Asoro Osadebamwen Roland, Yekini Oisayemoje Idiaye, Nosayaba Okunbor, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The plaintiff had prayed for leave to serve the first to ninth defendants by substituted means by delivery of the Originating Summons and every other process of the court to the Office of the Clerk of the Edo State House of Assembly in Benin, Edo State.

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In the alternative, he sought to paste the processes at the defendants’ usual or last known place of abode at Edo State House of Assembly Legislative Quarters.

In a bench ruling, Justice Obiozor held: “It is hereby ordered as follows: that prayer (1) for service on the Clerk of the Edo State House of Assembly is refused.

“That the originating and other subsequent processes in this suit be served on the first to ninth defendants by pasting same at their usual or last known place of abode by pasting at a conspicuous part of the gate or main building at their Edo State House of Assembly Legislative Quarters, G.R.A., Benin City.

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“That the pictorial representation of all such pasted processes shall be attached to the affidavit of service in proof of service.”

He adjourned till September 27 for mention.

In the suit, Addeh is seeking five reliefs, including a declaration that the first to eighth defendants have automatically vacated their seats as members of the House of Assembly of Edo State, having defected to another political party, from the APC, “which sponsored their election to the House of Assembly of Edo State”.

He is also seeking a declaration that they have “immediately ceased, respectively, to be members of the House of Assembly of Edo State” and have lost their seats of the Esan South East Constituency; Esan West Constituency Esan North-East Constituency I; Esan North-East Constituency II; Igueben State Constituency; Orhionmwon Constituency II; Akoko Edo Constituency I; Orhionmwon Constituency I; in the assembly.

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Addeh asked the court to restrain the Speaker from further recognising the first to eighth defendants, and give an order directing INEC to “immediately conduct by-elections to fill the vacant seats”.

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