Posted by Osteen Oyinbode, Asaba | 4 August 2015 | 3,780 times
The Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal yesterday in Asaba threw out another set of five motions brought by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate, Olorungun O’tega Emerhor.
Emerhor and the APC had sought the leave of the tribunal for enlargement of time to include additional information to their petition.
The motion also sought the tribunal’s permission to compel the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and INEC by way of response, to furnish the tribunal with more facts about the petition.
Dr. Alex Iziyon (SAN), counsel to Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, the Delta State Governor, vehemently opposed the application after the adopting of his written address. He submitted that Section 45(1) of the Electoral Act is not a magic umbrella, adding that the Electoral Act forbids the tribunal the powers to grant the application. He further argued that rules advanced by the petitioner were not tenable.
Counsel to PDP and INEC, A. T. Kehinde and Damian D. Dodo (SAN) respectively, also opposed the application, relying on section 285(1) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Section 134 of the Electoral Act. They informed the tribunal that the combined effect of the two sections curtail the powers of the tribunal to grant the extension of time.
Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Nasiru Gunmi, in his ruling said the application lacked merit because it violated Section 17(1)(2) of the Electoral Act, as Emerhor and APC failed to keep within the time limit of ten days within which to file their motion.
Justice Gunmi averred: “If a party in an election petition, wishes to have further particulars or other directions about the tribunal, such party may do so at any time but not more than ten days after the filing of the reply from the respondents.” He added: “If the party does not apply as provided for in the electoral act, it is taken that they do not require any further particulars or direction,” and the prayers shall be granted.
Continuing, Justice Gunmi said: “The applicant’s application is in breach of section 17(1) of the first schedule of the Electoral Act, which requires the applicant to file their application within ten days, as time allowed has expired, and the question now is whether this tribunal can extend time. In a situation like this, the tribunal is bound to exercise it powers as contained in section 17 (1) of the electoral act. Equally, section 17(2) prohibits this tribunal from extending time, it restricts the tribunal from exercising such power for time extension.”
Justice Gunmi declared: “If the tribunal lacks powers to grant a particular relief, it is duty-abound to refuse such application, in the end we agree with the submission of the respondents counsel (PDP INEC), in the end we refuse this application and it accordingly dismissed.”
Counsel to Emerjor, Thompson Okpoko, had earlier argued that Section 17(1) (2) of the Electoral Act permitted what his client was asking. He argued that if a party to an election petition wishing to have better and further particulars, he can apply to the tribunal. Okpoko added that by reason of that provision that has prompted them to file the motion for time enlargement the application was brought because they were unable to meet the stipulated time as contained in the electoral act.
In a similar motion brought by APC and Otega, through its counsel, Mr. Okpoko, the petitioners sought the leave of the tribunal to call for seven additional witnesses on oath in their petition.
The respondent’s counsel, Dr. Alex Iziyon (SAN), equally opposed the application, saying the petitioners failed to carry out the mandatory front loading in their previous petitions and motions and urged the court to also dismiss the application.
Justice Gunmi has reserved tomorrow, August 5, for ruling on whether or not to allow APC and O’tega to call for seven additional witnesses in the petition.
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