Thursday, September 10, 2015 11:53 pm
The National Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Awka, Anambra State, eastern Nigeria, has adjourned the petition filed by Chief Victor Umeh of APGA challenging the election of Mrs Uche Ekwunife of PDP indefinitely.
The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Nayai Aganaba, adjourned judgment indefinitely, following the adoption of addresses by parties in the suit on Thursday in Awka.
Adopting his address, Counsel to the petitioner, Mr Patrick Ikwueto (SAN), urged the tribunal to nullify the declaration of Ekwunife on grounds that she was not duly nominated by her party.
Ikwueto argued that the PDP committee, which conducted the party primary for nominating Ekwunife as the senatorial candidate of the party was not authorised to do so.
He argued that Ekwunife was nominated through an invalid process and was, therefore, not legitimately sponsored by the PDP.
He further contended that the total votes cast in the senatorial poll exceeded the total number of accredited voters, urging the tribunal to declare the votes null and void.
Also, adopting his address, Counsel to INEC, Mr Ikechukwu Ezechukwu (SAN), said that the infraction which the petitioners complained about was not sufficient enough to cancel the election.
Ezechukwu argued that in the 56 polling units complained about in the petition, the petitioner failed to prove that the election was rigged.
He also said that the issue of the nomination of Ekwunife was a pre-election matter.
In his submission, Counsel to Ekwunife, Mr Peter Eze, said that Ekwunife would maintain her victory from the varying result figures presented by the petitioners.
“That is why the petitioner is basing his argument on infractions.
“The petitioner kept on changing figures and brought an expert who yet gave another set of figures when the expert was faulted.
“It is not for the tribunal to do the calculations, it must come from a witness as evidence,” he said.
Eze said that the petitioners failed to set out in their evidence scores to prove Umeh won the election, noting that it was a clear case of a man abandoning his pleadings.
“The petitioner led evidence in 119 polling units, leaving out 42 polling units where his evidence lies,” he said, urging the tribunal to dismiss the petition.
On his part, Counsel to the PDP, Mr George Igbokwe, told the tribunal that the petitioners failed to treat their own expert witness as a hostile witness, following the witness’s testimonies against the pleadings of the petitioners.
“The petitioner’s case is that they won by majority of votes cast but they also failed to prove that.
“Rather, they provided five conflicting results to the tribunal.
“Again, they did not lead evidence that Ekwunife was not duly nominated by the PDP as the senatorial candidate of the party for Anambra Central,” he said, urging the tribunal to dismiss the petition.
Umeh had filed the petition challenging Ekwunife’s victory at the March 28 polls on grounds of alleged infractions, mutilations of results and other electoral malpractices.