Posted by Pamela Eboh, Awka | 17 August 2019 | 1,351 times
The Senator representing Anambra Central at the red chamber of the national Assembly under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, has asked the Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Awka, to dismiss the petition filed against her by Sen. Victor Umeh.
Ekwunife made the prayer on Friday through her counsel, Jude Nnodum SAN, while adopting her final written addresses in the petition.
Recall that Umeh, who contested the election under the umbrella of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), had gone to court to challenge the election result which favoured PDP.
Umeh had in his petition marked EPT/AN/SEN/16/2019 challenged Ekwunife’s victory on the grounds that she was not properly nominated by her party and non-compliance to the provisions of Electoral Act in the February 23 election.
But Nnodum said the petition should be dismissed as the issue of invalid nomination which the petitioner raised, did not arise in the two grounds stated in their petition.
Nnodum described the whole argument in the matter as mere academic exercise saying that the issue of nomination was a pre-election matter in the context of the petition in question.
Citing section 138 (1a) of the Electoral Act, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria said that the section holds all the clarity on the question of who is qualified to contest election.
In his address, counsel to INEC, R. O. Yusuf adopted the prayers of Ekwunife’s lawyer, saying that Umeh should be made to pay some punitive cost.
On his part, the counsel to PDP, Ikechukwu Ezechukwu SAN, explained that the breaches the petitioners were talking about belonged to pre-election component of the election process as contained in section 285(14)(a, b, c) of the Electoral Act.
He insisted that Ekwunife was nominated by substitution which was provided for by the electoral law.
“Umeh lacked the competence to challenge her nomination because he did not participate in the primary election.
“Umeh had the opportunity to challenge the perceived faulty nomination by petitioning INEC 14 days after the final list of candidates was published but failed to do that. The door for that has closed and I urge this tribunal to dismiss the petition,” the counsel averred.
While opposing Ezechukwu’s submission, the counsel to Umeh, Patrick Ikwueto SAN, said the petition had merit and should be upheld.
Ikwueto argued that elections could be questioned on the grounds of corrupt practice and non-compliance which was part of the grounds of the petition.
He asked the tribunal to read through the petition again and see that non-compliance was the crux of the matter, adding that the Supreme Court had already decided on such matters.
The chairman of the tribunal, Justice Thelma Okara reserved the ruling in the matter for a yet to be determined date even as he urged the parties to forward their authorities to the tribunal.
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