Major-General Charles Airhiavbere
The appeal filed by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the July 14 governorship election in Edo State, Major-General Charles Airhiavbere, against a ruling of the lower tribunal that stopped him from presenting additional witnesses Wednesday suffered a set-back.
A judgment of the appellate court Wednesday would have determined whether Airhiavbere could call additional witnesses to testify at the tribunal, since he is challenging the outcome of the election.
The lower tribunal under Justice Suleiman Ambrusa-led panel had ruled that Airhiavbere could not call more witnesses on the issue of academic qualification because it had earlier ruled that the issue of academic qualification was a pre-election matter.
When the case came up for hearing at the Court of Appeal, there was confusion when the suit No CA/B/EPT/320/2012 was called.
Counsel to Governor Adams Oshiomhole, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) refused to take appearances after counsel to Airhiavbere, Efe Akpofure, announced his appearance.
Olanipekun said the case suit number called was strange to him and that they had no brief on the case 320.
He said: “I don’t have 320 at all. I am still confused as to which appeal I am to appear for.”
Akpofure told the court that the suit number for hearing was 330 and that it was the fault of court registry that two numbers were assigned to two appeals in one record.
He urged the court to take the appeal suit number 320 and applied that the appeal with suit 330 be changed to 320.
Akpofure had also requested for some minutes break to enable them sort the differences in the suit number.
According to him, “320 were listed today. The petitioner case will close tomorrow at the tribunal. We should take the appeal on the suit listed on the cause list.”
“There is no confusion. All the parties filed their brief to the appeal. The mistake is by the registrar.”
Counsel to ACN, Austin Alageh, said the appeal was unknown and that it would be better for an adjournment to be taken for the appellant to sort it out with the registrar.
He opposed the oral application by Akpofure for temporary adjournment.
Head of the three-man panel of Justices, Justice Helen Ogunwumiju urged Counsels to the Respondents to announce appearances for solutions to the confusion as regards which suit number could be resolved.
However, Olanipekun said it was not the fault of the registrar for the confusion.
According to him, “We sympathise with them. You can’t use one record for two different appeals over a judgment delivered on two different days. The application to amend is totally incompetent.”
The court in its ruling, while adjourning the case to December 3, 2012 ordered that two separate files be created and that there cannot be any amendment.