Posted by Agwu Okojogho, Umuahia | 21 May 2015 | 10,276 times
The 2015 Abia State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal yesterday granted leave of the tribunal to the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dr. Alex Otti, in the 2015 general elections, to inspect materials used in conducting the governorship polls in the state.
The tribunal also granted Otti the leave to serve the process of his petition on Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) through substituted service.
The tribunal gave the ruling during its first sitting, shortly after its inaugural sitting where the Chairman of the three-man panel, Justice Usman Bwala, made it clear that the tribunal would not brook any time wasting tactics.
In his opening remarks during the inaugural sitting, Bwala said the members of the tribunal were in Abia with an open mind to do justice to all the petitions before it and sought the cooperation of lawyers appearing before the panel to cooperate with them.
“Discharge your duties effectively and we will discharge ours, that is what we want,” Bwala said.
He warned against any move by any person to influence members of the tribunal in the course of discharging their duties
In his remarks, another member of the tribunal, Justice Ekeret Ebienyie, reiterated that the tribunal would be appreciative if the parties appearing before them would avoid wasting of time to enable the tribunal dispense justice in the proper manner.
In his remarks, Justice Olusegun Ogunyemi urged all to be guided by the fear of God since Abia is ‘God’s Own State’.
Attorney-General of Abia State, Chief Umeh Kalu, and Chief Chris Uche, welcomed the tribunal members to Abia with the assurance that the lawyers would give it the needed cooperation.
After these remarks, Bwala quickly brought the inaugural sitting to an end while the members retired to their chambers and re-emerged about 10 minutes later to conduct the first sitting.
Kicking off the legal fireworks on resumption of the tribunal sitting, Otti, through his lead Counsel, Chief Chris Uche, quickly sought the leave of the Tribunal to file two motions.
The reliefs sought in the two motions brought exparte were the leave of the Tribunal to serve Dr Okezie Ikpeazu through substituted means as well as to allow the petitioner-applicants to inspect election materials.
In its ruling, the tribunal granted reliefs sought in the motions and directed the petitioner to inspect the election materials on May 27, 28 and 30, 2015 while the petitioner must serve the ruling on the respondents before 12 noon today.
Counsel to Otti, Chief Chris Uche, applauded the ruling of the tribunal, saying it testifies to the determination of the tribunal not to waste time in determining petitions brought before it. He said Otti and APGA would storm INEC headquarters in Umuahia with forensic experts to inspect card readers, ballot papers and all the forms where results were recorded, among others.
However, the Abia State Secretary of the PDP, Barrister Charles Eseonu, faulted the ruling on inspection of election materials, arguing that it was central to the petition and the motion should not have been brought exparte. According to Eseonu, the motion should have been brought in the presence of the respondents who should also have had the opportunity to canvass their positions. The tribunal said it would resume on June 11, 2015 for hearing and pre-trial of the petition. Besides the petition by Otti, there are two other petitions pending at the Governorship tribunal
Otti is questioning the return of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu as the winner of the April 11 and 25, 2015 governorship elections in Abia sState, praying the tribunal to declare him winner as Ikpeazu did not win majority of the lawful votes cast during the poll, or alternatively, nullify the election and order fresh guber poll in Abia. Similarly, the APC governorship candidate, Chief Anyim Nyerere, is also urging the tribunal to cancel the Abia 2015 goverorship elections and conduct a fresh poll while Ochiagha Regan Ufomba, has dragged the INEC before the tribunal for excluding him from the guber polls, insisting that he was the duly nominated candidate of the APGA. Lawyers to respondents in Otti’s petition, including Ikpeazu, PDP and INEC were absent at the tribunal during today’s sitting.
•Photo shows Otti.
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