National and State Assembly Election Tribunal sitting in Lokoja, Kogi State, has dismissed the petition of Senator Smart Adeyemi of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the March 28 election against the victory of Senator Dino Melaye of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Adeyemi had challenged the election and return of Senator Melaye as winner of the National Assembly election for Kogi West Senatorial District and urged the tribunal to reverse it.
But Justice Akon Ikpeme, chairman of the three-member tribunal, yesterday dismissed the petition in his ruling on the motion filed by Rickey Tarfa, SAN, counsel to Melaye, on the ground that the petition was incompetent and abandoned.
Justice Ikpeme said the petitioners ran afoul of the Electoral Act in filing their reply to the 1st respondent’s response out of time, saying that they were served on 13th May and could only file their reply on May 18, six days after.
On the submission by the petitioners’ counsel, Adekunle Otitoju, that the tribunal could resort to Federal Civil Procedure Rule to address the out-of-date filing, the tribunal chairman held that they could only do that when there was a lacuna.
“We are bound by our records that this tribunal accepts that the petitioners were served on May 13, 2015 at 3:57pm as confirmed by the court’s records and hold that the reply was filed on the 6th day and therefore, out of time.
“We hold that the petitioners’ reply is incompetent as it was filed out of time and is hereby, struck out”, she said.
On whether the petitioners abandoned their petition for failing to apply for issuance of Form TF001 for pre-hearing session within the statutory seven-day time line, she said the petitioner had up to 19th to file the application.
Ikpeme held that, “The petitioners ought to have filed the application on 19th rather than May 20th and have therefore, abandoned their petition.”
She added that pursuit of other issues relating to the petition could only amount to “mere academic exercise” and therefore dismissed the petition for incompetence and abandonment on the part of Nigerian Pilot recalls that Tarfa in the motion supported by a 13-paragraph affidavit, sought five reliefs, including an order of the tribunal to strike out the petitioners’ reply for being filed out of time.
The motion also sought an order dismissing the petition over the petitioners’ failures and ruling that their actions robbed the tribunal of further hearing in the case.
Adeyemi had in the petition, with Melaye, APC and INEC as 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents, sought five prayers, including the nullification and withdrawal of Melaye’s Certificate of Return and declaring him (petitioner) winner of the March 28, 2015 election.


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