General Charles Airhiavbere (rtd)
By Adibe Emenyonu
The inaugural sitting of the Edo State Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Benin City began Tuesday, in the petition filed by General Charles Airhiavbere (rtd), the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), challenging the victory of Governor Adams Oshiomhole of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), in the July 14, 2012 governorship election.
The legal fireworks, which saw the gathering of a large number of legal luminaries, including seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) leading 30 other lawyers, representing all parties in the petition, also witnessed the formal withdrawal of the PDP as second petitioner.
Standing for Oshiomhole as the first Respondent were Ricky Tafa (SAN), Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), Omoruyi Omonuwa (SAN), who led six other lawyers; Adetunji Oyeyipo (SAN) and Ken Mozia (SAN) leading other lawyers as counsel to the 2nd Respondent (ACN); while Efe Akpofure (SAN), S.O. Aguinede (SAN) led other lawyers for Airhiavbere.
Also representing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) and the Returning Officer was Nasara Auta.
In his remarks, chairman of the tribunal, Justice Suleman Ambrusa, solicited the maximum cooperation of all parties in the case, just as he promised to abide by the oath of office, with all pronouncement based on their understanding of the law and fair hearing for all parties with no form of intimidation.
He asked lawyers to all the parties to do their best for their clients and in the best interest of the law, adding that they should avoid all forms of technicalities to enable the tribunal dispense justice without delay.
The tribunal chairman, who was flanked by Hon. Justices Esor Teetito and Danlami Senahi, as members, also told counsel to the parties to file their briefs on time to fast-track court proceeding.
Edo State Solicitor-General, Mrs. Stella Uwugbe, who represented the state Attorney-General of Justice, Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, assured of cooperation throughout the entire sitting of the Tribunal.
Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Edo State chapter, Mr. Razak Isenalumhe, said residents should look up to the tribunal to dispense justice to the aggrieved parties in the petition, pledging the cooperation of lawyers in the state.
Counsel to Airhiavbere, Efe Akpofure (SAN) expressed confidence that justice would be done no matter what happens and promised maximum cooperation and to act within the confines of the law.