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Enugu Guber: Tribunal Reserves Judgement As Mbah, INEC, PDP Pick Holes In LP Case

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The 2023 Enugu state Governorship Election petition Tribunal has reserved it’s judgement on a day to be communicated to the parties involved. 

 Chairman of the three man panel, Justice Kudirat Akano, disclosed this Wednesday after the defendant, and Governor of Enugu state, Dr. Peter Mbah of the peoples Democratic party PDP and the petitioner, Barr. Chijioke Edoga of Labour party through their lawyers presented their final written addresses to the tribunal. 

 Our Correspondent who was at the tribunal reports that the1st Respondent, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); 2nd Respondent, Governor Peter Mbah of (PDP); and 3rd Respondents, PDP, opposed an attempt by the petitioners, Labour Party (LP) and its governorship candidate, Hon. Edeoga, to amend grave errors in their final written address.

 The Labour party and it’s Candidate  had in their final written address prayed the court to declare LP winner of the Rivers State governorship election instead of the Enugu State governorship election.

Lead Counsel to Edoga, Chief Adegboyega Awomolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), had after the adoption of final written address by the Respondents, made an application seeking to correct some fundamental errors in their final written address earlier submitted to the tribunal, which the defendant opposed.

Aside  using Rivers in place of Enugu, the Petitioners also said they used the word “negative” instead of “positive” at In paragraph 4.4 line 1, while they also observed another ‘error’ at paragraph 4.3 (a) line 2, where they wrote 2nd Respondent (Peter Mbah) instead of the ‘Petitioner’.

But INEC, through its counsel, Abdul Mohammed Rafindadi (SAN), opposed the application, asserting that it was a calculated attempt to change the position the Petitoners had earlier taken in their written addresses.

Citing several authorities, including Fingesi v. INEC (2019) where the court refused to grant application for such amendments, INEC said it was a procedural defect to ask for an amendment of a final written address and therefore enjoined the court to throw out the application.

The electoral body insisted that it was not a typographical error, but an admission by the Petitioners that they had lost the case.

Opposing the application also, lead counsel to governor Mbah, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), posited out that  the injustice the Respondents would suffer if the application was granted could not be remedied, insisting that the Petitioner wanted to add a further address.

According to him,  the Respondents had already adopted their final written addresses, hence for them, the matter was closed.

However,  the LP, in their final written address hinged their case on Dr. Peter Mbah’s National Youth Service (NYSC) discharge certificate, which they alleged was forged.

They equally  alleged falsification of election results as well as over-voting in some polling units.

But the Respondents – INEC, Mbah, and PDP – in their written addresses, dismissed the allegations and equally carpeted the witnesses of the petitioners, including the LP Polling Unit agents, who, during their cross-examination, admitted that they were not documented by INEC in accordance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and the INEC Guidelines.

They also held that the Petitioners failed to prove allegations of falsification of results and over-voting. 

The Respondent  maintained that while the Petitioners failed to present witnesses to prove over-voting, the fact that agents of LP signed the contested results nullified their allegations, going by several judicial authorities.

They described reliance of the Petitioners on Mbah’s NYSC discharge certificate as  “a no moment”, saying  that not only should the issue of NYSC discharge certificate not have arisen in the first place since it is neither a qualification for the position of governor as listed in Section 177 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) nor an educational qualification, which could be considered as a document required in aid of qualification, the Petitioners also failed to prove a case of forgery against the Governor.

Speaking with Newsmen after  the submission of the Labour party’s final written address to the Tribunal, one of it’s  Counsels, Mrs. Janet Azinge, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said they presented overwhelming evidences to the tribunal and hope that the petitioner, Barrister Chijioke Edoga their client will be victorious in the end. 

She said: “I believe we have done a good job, but the court will have the final say. 

“It is the tribunal that will decide where the pendulum will switch to. On our part, we have done  our best. We provided overwhelming evidence to the tribunal.


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