Posted by Charles lwuoha, Enugu | 19 July 2019 | 579 times
The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate during the National Assembly election for Enugu North/South Federal Constituency, Mr. Nelson Maduka Arum, on Wednesday, sought a leave of the tribunal for the withdrawal of his petition.
Arum had dragged the current occupier of the office, Hon. Offor Chukwuegbo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the Tribunal, seeking the nullification of his victory.
It could be recalled that the Tribunal, on the request of the petitioners, had on Tuesday, adjourned to Wednesday to enable Arum and the APC open and close their case.
However, when the matter was called up, Arum's counsel, Mr. Patrick Luke, told the Tribunal that they were no longer interested in continuing the case.
Although he did not give any reason, he said he was acting under the instruction of the petitioners.
"We have application to make; we are applying for leave of this honorable Tribunal to withdraw the instant petition.
"We have the consent of the petitioners to make this application. We rely on Paragraph 29 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act in making this application."
This did not go down well with the respondents as they both opposed the application, arguing that the petitioners were taking the Tribunal for a ride.
Instead, A. J. Offiah (SAN), counsel for 1st respondent and Tochukwu Odoh, counsel for 2nd respondent, asked for judgment and dismissal of the petition.
Addressing the court after he was delegated by Offia, another member of the team of counsels representing the 1st defendant, P. M. B. Onyia said: “We are vehemently opposed to this application in whatever nomenclature it came up.
“My Lord, even if it is to be considered in the manner it was made, it will still be our contention that that application is not grantable. This is because there is no motion pending before Your Lordships, which will be adjourned for it to be moved.
“Your Lordships cannot adjourn, begin to speculate and fix a date anticipatorily for a motion that has not come.
“This petition was fixed for yesterday and today, for the petitioners to open and close their case. But they are now talking about motion to withdraw the case.
“So, we urge Your Lordships to deliver a final judgement on this petition, which we are entitled to, and dismiss this petition with both punitive, exemplary and aggravated costs.”
On a similar note, counsel to the 2nd defendant, Mr. Tochukwu Odoh argued that the petitions were taking the Tribunal for a ride.
He said: “From yesterday till today was enough for the petitioners to have filed a motion. It means they are not serious.
“I urge Your Lordships to sanction the petitioners with a dismissal of the petition.”
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, which is joined as the 3rd respondent, in his stand described the action of the petitioners as “provocative”.
INEC, represented by Mr. H.I Okoli, who held the brief of Sadiq Abubakar, (SAN), said it was annoying that the petitioners were seeking to withdraw the petition after issues had been joined.
He, however, said: “On our own part, I still leave it to the discretion of the court, INEC being an unbiased umpire.”
In its ruling, the Tribunal Chairman, Hon. Justice H. H. Kerang said the respondents failed to tell the Tribunal any injury they would suffer if the application to move the motion for withdrawal of the petition was granted.
“We accede to the petitioners’ application,” the tribunal ruled.
Meanwhile, shortly after the ruling, Mrs. Offiah (SAN), counsel to the 1st respondent asked the court to award cost of N500,000 against the petitioners.
She said the petitioners did not act professionally by not intimating the court, that it planned to withdraw the petition, but undertook to put its witnesses on the box.
The lawyer said: “We are asking for cost from the petitioners for aborting today’s proceedings. The appearance of a team of counsel is at great cost to the 1st respondent.”
Our correspondent reports that though the counsel to the petitioners had opposed the application for cost, he was overruled by the tribunal.
It awarded a cost of N30,000 against the petitioners in favour of the 1st respondent.
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