Nigeria, August 03, 2015, (Blank NEWS Online) –
A three-man panel of the Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, chaired by Justice Nasiru Gunmi, at its resumed sitting on Monday, August 03, 2015, in Asaba, threw out another set of five motions brought by All Progressive 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 PDP and INEC by way of response, to furnish the tribunal with more facts about the petition.
Dr. Aliex Iziyon (SAN) counsel to Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, the Delta State governor, vehemently opposed the application after adopting his written address ,and 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 are not tenable.
Counsels 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 Electorial 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.
Chairmen of the Tribunal Justice Nasiru Gunmi, in his ruling on the motion said the application lacked merits 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 that “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”, adding “that 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 be granted.
He further postulated that “The applicants 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”.
He ruled that “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 earlier argued that, section 17(1) (2), of the electoral act permits what his clent 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, adding 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 withness on oath in their petition .
The respondents counsels lead by Dr. Alex Iziyon 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 reservedAugust 5, 2015 for ruling on the matter, whether to allow the APC and O’tega to call for seven additional witness in the petition.
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