Abia Guber poll: APGA Candidate, Otti Floors PDP, Governor Ikpeazu Again At Appeal CourtLatest News, News From The State Friday, September 18th, 2015
By IGNATIUS OKPARA, Owerri
BALTIMORE, MD (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri, the Imo state capital has quashed two separate but similar appeals brought before it by the Abia state Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the gubernatorial Candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Dr. Alex Otti, and his party during the last general polls.
Two of the appeals originated from an action of the Abia State Governorship Election petition Tribunal, sitting in Umuahia, the Abia state capital.
The PDP and its candidate Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, failed in their quest to get the Appellate Court sitting in Owerri, to over-turned the Abia Governorship Election Tribunal on the procedures to adopt in the on-going legal battle between him and the APGA flag bearer.
However, in a unanimous verdict, of a five-member panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal, the Court, which earlier struck out 3 out of the 4 issues raised by PDP before dismissing the appeal, accepted that the entire appeal is premature as same is based on complaint against a ruling which the tribunal has not yet delivered.
The panel of justices, further stated that there is no infringement of the right to fair hearing of the appellant as they were rightly heard by the Trial Tribunal before ruling was adjourned within the 180 days stipulated by the constitution.
Speaking with newsmen, shortly after the verdict, which lasted for an hour, Counsel to Dr. Otti and APGA, Nwala Chukwudi Oracle Esq, said that “what the Court of Appeal did today was giving effect to and affirming the sanctity of Paragraph 12 (5) of the 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act.
He stated that the Court of Appeal could not have gone any other way than to confirm that the Trial Tribunal has powers to take all preliminary motions along with the substantive petition.
Hear him: ”As a matter of fact, Paragraph 12 (5) is intended to reflect the sui generis nature of election matters.
” The spirit and intendment of that paragraph is to suppress the mischief of delaying the Election Petition proceeding by ensuring that preliminary objections, whether on jurisdiction or not, raised in the course of the proceedings, did not derail the determination of the merit of a case by undue and unwarranted delays occasioned by preliminary objections.
“As a matter of fact, the tribunal is under a duty to comply with the provisions of paragraph 12(5), when objections are raised against the hearing of a petition.”
Delivering the judgment, the Appellate Court, relied on the case of Aregbesola vs Omisore stressing that “When paragraph 53(5) was in being, paragraph 12(5) came in on the 29th October, 2010 like a Trojan Horse. Paragraph 53(5) itself came into effect on 20th August, 2010. Paragraph 12(5) was undoubtedly enacted for a purpose.
“That purpose was to enable election petition tribunals to handle election petitions without undue reliance on technicalities. Although paragraph 53(5) was not repealed, the law is that the provisions of the later enactment amend the earlier so far as necessary to remove the inconsistency between them’.
It would be recalled that earlier on 3rd of September, same Appeal Court, had dismissed a similar suit brought to it by the Abia governor, Dr. Victor Okezie Ikpeazu, against Dr. Alex Otti on the same basis that it lacked merit and was a mere academic exercise.
The case at the Abia tribunal meanwhile, had been adjourned to October 14, 2015 for the adoption of final written addresses of all parties.
However, some APGA members who spoke to AFRICAN EXAMINER on condition of anonymity, hailed the Appeal Court judgement, expressing the hope that soonest the party will retrieve its alleged stolen mandate from the PDP.
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