APP BATTLES INEC OVER EDO GOVERNORSHIP ELECTION

As the Edo State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal resumes sitting in Benin City, Counsel to Mr. Godwin Obaseki, Ken Mozia, SAN, has called on the Tribunal to prevail on the Action Peoples Party, APP, to close its case in the absence of any witness.

The call by Mozia, SAN, came following an application by APP through its Counsel, Chikosom Ojukwu, that they had difficulties getting some foundational documents from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to proceed with proving their petition filed in view of their Governorship and Deputy Governorship Candidates exclusion from the September 19,2020 election.

He prayed the tribunal’s direction having applied for subpoena on 16th December 2020 and was yet to be signed to enable the relevant witnesses to be served.

Mozia, SAN, reminded the Tribunal that the petitioner had two days within which to conduct and close his case according to the pre-hearing report before the Tribunal.

Counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Emeka Etiaba, SAN, in opposing the application argued that the petitioner was not ready to go on with the matter and urged the Tribunal to dismiss the petition for being deemed abandoned.

In his submission, Counsel to the INEC, Alex Iziyon, SAN, if the petitioner’s Counsel was asking for a direction, the Tribunal should so direct that he opens his case.

Iziyon, SAN, argued that out of the petitioner has decided to call just one out of his five witnesses, since the winess was present before the Tribunal, he should be put in the witness box to give his evidence.

The petitioner’s Counsel then prayed the tribunal for a stand-down of the matter to enable him put things in order and the Tribunal granted his prayer.

By the time the Tribunal reconvened, Chikosom Ojukwu then called his witness, Uche Nnadi, who is the Acting National Chairman if the APP.

He testified that his party forwarded the substituted names of their Governorship and Deputy Governorship Candidates to the INEC after some of their candidates stepped down but the electoral umpire refused to effect the substituted names, hence, the party commenced a legal action against INEC at a Federal High Court in Abuja where judgment is still being awaited.

During cross-examination by Counsel to Gov. Obaseki, PDP and INEC, the witness stated that the acronym and logo of his party were on the ballot papers used for the election and that his party scored a total of 78 votes.

He testified that as at the 22nd July 2020, INEC orally rejected the names his party submitted, emphasizing that he was the Deputy National Chairman of the party and in-charge of administration as at the time of the election.

Mr. Uche Nnadi told the Tribunal that 13th July 2020 was the last date for withdrawal or substitution of candidates as reflected on the timetable for the election.

The witness confirmed via a document shown to him that the party’s Governorship Candidate,Amos, and the Deputy Governorship Candidate, Albert, wrote to the INEC about their intention to withdraw from the race on 20th July 2020, but INEC’s refusal to accept same, formed the basis of the suit before the Federal High Court.