TRIBUNAL: Ken Pela’s Counsel Makes Amusing Revelation About Onyeme

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…as parties adopt final written addresses

The Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba, the State capital has adopted the final written addresses in the petition filed by the candidate of Labour Party (LP), Ken Pela, challenging the election of Governor Sheriff Oborevwori of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Counsels to the 1st, 2nd, third and 3rd respondents effortlessly adopted their final written addresses dated and filed September 18 and their respective replies to the written address of the petitioner, urging the tribunal to dismiss the petition with cost.

However, counsel to the petitioners, Mathias Emeribe had issues in adopting his final written address dated and filed on September 21, apparently due to inconsistencies in the main petition and the address.

While urging the tribunal to allow the petition, Emeribe listed the three grounds of the petition to include the qualification of the 2nd and 3rd respondents; non-compliance with the provisions of the law in the conduct of the March 18 election; and majority of lawful votes cast.

On the ground of qualification of the 3rd respondent (Oborevwori’s Deputy, Monday Onyeme), Emeribe contended that he did not resign from the public office he held before the election.

But when asked by the tribunal chairman, C.H. Ahuchaogu, to state the position held by the 3rd respondent as it was not expressly reflected in the address and the petition, Emeribe repeatedly stated that the 3rd respondent was the Commissioner for Internal Revenue.

Pressed further by the tribunal that there was no evidence provided by the petitioners to prove the allegations of non-qualification of the second and 3rd respondents, counsel told the court that it was stated in the petitioner’s witness statement on oath in support of the petition.

On the ground of non-compliance with the relevant laws in the conduct of the election, the petitioners’ counsel also shifted the burden of proof to the 1st respondent which is the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Earlier in adopting his final written address, counsel to the 1st respondent, A.T. Kehinde, succinctly argued that the petition should be summarily dismissed with cost on the ground that the processes filed by the petitioners were not in consonance with the Practice Direction.

On his part, counsel to the 2nd and 3rd respondents, Samson Egege who also relied on his final written address and his reply to the final address of the petitioners, prayed the tribunal to strike out the petition with substantial cost.

Egege argued that the petitioners hinged their allegation of non-qualification of the 2nd respondent on forged documents submitted to the 1st respondent in forms F001 and EC9.

He noted however that the petitioners failed to tender the alleged forged documents in evidence as the tribunal cannot speculate on a weighty criminal allegation of forgery.

“On the qualification of the third respondent, the petitioners in their evidence did not indicate what position he held as contained in their deposition. The resignation tendered by the respondent was out of abundance.

“On the allegation of non-compliance, in addition to their pleadings, the Petitioners’ Witness (PW11) admitted that the allegation is hinged on the alleged failure of INEC to upload results to IReV.

“The second admission by the same witness is that the result sheet which the petitioners tendered contained the same figures as declared by the first respondent.

“We therefore submit that in both pleadings and evidence adduced, the petition lacks substance, it is frivolous and unmeritorious and goes against settled principles of law in both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court,” Egege submitted.

Also praying the tribunal to throw out the petition, counsel to the fourth respondent, Ekeme Ohwovorhiole, said the petition was patently lacking in merit.

He however urged the tribunal to award an effective cost against the petitioners.

The three-member tribunal thereafter adjourned the petition for judgment.

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