Posted by News Express | 5 September 2015 | 6,310 times
The Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri on Friday dismissed an appeal filed by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s Counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, challenging the ruling of the Governorship election petition tribunal, sitting in Umuahia.
The three-member Abia State Governorship Election Tribunal, headed by Justice Usman Bwala, ruled on July 24 that all the motions filed by the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents (Ikpeazu, Peoples Democratic Party and INEC) and the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dr. Alex Otti, would be taken together with their judgment.
The tribunal ruled thus: “All these motions will be taken together with our judgment. Some of the motions are word for word with preliminary objection raised in 1st, 2nd, 3rd Respondents replies to the petition and petitioners replies to the respondents replies served on him.”
Dissatisfied with the ruling, Ikpeazu headed for the Appeal Court, sitting in Owerri.
Adopting his brief of argument on Aug. 21 at the Court of Appeal, Olanipekun said that the right to fair hearing of his client had been breached as a result of the inability of the trail tribunal to deliver its ruling of their application.
He further argued that “no court has the powers, inherent or otherwise to reserve a ruling indefinitely.”
He, therefore, urged the Appeal Court to allow the appeal by granting their reliefs in the notice of appeal and to enjoin the lower tribunal to rule on the pending motions.
Mr Chukwudi Oracle, Counsel Otti and APGA, while adopting his brief of argument, said: “The tribunal has jurisdiction, pursuant to paragraph 12(5) of the 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2010 to determine the preliminary objections of the appellant (Ikpeazu) along with the main petition.”
Oracle further said that “there is no issue of fair hearing involved in the case because the appellant was heard on his motion.”
He posited that “the appeal is premature, pre-emptive, frivolous and mere academic exercise and should be dismissed by the Appeal Court.”
In its ruling, the Appeal Court, while upholding Oracle’s argument, agreed on the sanctity of Paragraph 12 (5) of the 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act and consequently dismissed the appeal.
It further affirmed that the lower tribunal is to give ruling on all the motions filed before it including those of the petitioners (Otti and APGA).
Meanwhile, PDP also filed two more appeals against the petitioners, which were taken on Friday by its Counsel, Paul Ananaba (SAN) and Rickey Tarfa (SAN) for the 1st and 2nd respondents (Otti and APGA).
The Court of Appeal has reserved judgments on the two appeals.
•Photo shows Gov Ikpeazu and Dr. Otti.
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