Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has fixed June 30 for ruling on a preliminary objection filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the petition brought by the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Labour Party challenging the results of the governorship election in the state.
Three petitions are before the three-man tribunal headed by Justice Nasiru Gunmi, challenging the declaration of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as winner of the April 11 governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The petitions were filed by Chief Great Ogboru of Labour Party, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Mr. Paul Isamade of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN).
At the resumed hearing yesterday in Asaba, Justice Gunmi after hearing the submissions of Dr. Alex Iziyon (SAN) lead counsel to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on his preliminary objections to the petitions of APC and LP, on the issues of jurisdiction and the need for pre-trial conference, fixed 30th June 2015 for ruling.
Iziyon in his preliminary objection asked the tribunal to terminate the petition because it lacks merit having been abandoned for failure to apply for re-hearing notice as provided for under paragraph 18 (1) of the Electoral Act 2014 as amended.
He urged the court to look at the nature of the objection, “as it is fundamental and touches on the spinal cord of the petition”, adding that respondents in the objections have complied with what Supreme Court has laid down in paragraph 12(5) of the Electoral Act.
He argued that the tribunal cannot collapse the hearing of the preliminary objections into the substantive matter as the pre-hearing will enable the court to hear all the court processes to determine whether they are competent.
He pointed out that in compliance with the new time framing, the pre-hearing is within new cases management techniques with a view to controlling and managing the tribunal procedures expeditiously.
Iziyon further allayed the fear of the tribunal that whichever way the pendulum of justice may swing in determining as to whether to entertain the pre-hearing, and the subsequent appeals of such decision will not truncate the proceedings of the tribunal.
Counsels to Emerhor and Ogboru, Mr. Thomson Okpoko (SAN) and Dele Adesina (SAN) respectively in their arguments prayed the court not to allow the tribunal to go through the pre-hearing as that will amount to waste of time for the court.
Okpoko sitting section 12(5) of the electoral petition Tribunal Act , told the court that election petition has time limits, adding that at the rate at which motions are been filed to terminate the petition, is such that if allowed would prevent the court from hearing the case on its merits.
Adesina in its submission told the court that section 285(6) of Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria limits the tribunal to 180 days , adding that time is of extreme essence to the hearing and determination which if not considered will amount to fundamental injustice to the petitioners

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