Youths Loyal to APC, PDP Clash at Edo Election Petitions Tribunal Hearing

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Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City

Three persons were reportedly hospitalised as supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) clashed yesterday shortly after proceedings at the Edo State governorship petitions tribunal in Benin City.

The three persons had their heads cut with broken glass bottles when they besieged the venue of the tribunal singing war songs.

Even shortly after the Tribunal rose, the APC and PDP youths commenced their war songs again leading to physical confrontation at the front of the tribunal which is located along Sapele Road in Benin City.

The police made futile efforts to stop the youths from entering the premises of the tribunal as they were overwhelmed by the multitude of youths.

Meanwhile, legal fireworks began in Benin City at the pre-hearing of the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in the 28, September 2016 election in Edo, Pastor Osagie Ize- Iyamu, challenging the declaration of Mr. Godwin Obaseki of the APC by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as winner of the election.

Counsel to the petitioners, Pastor Osagie Ize- Iyamu.and his party, the PDP is led by Mr. Adebayo Adelodun (SAN). Others are Mr. Roland Otaru (SAN), Chief Dan Okoh (SAN), Mr. Ferdinand Orbih (SAN), Mr.Henry Ogbodu (SAN) and A.Akinolu (SAN) and others.

INEC 1st Respondent in the petition is being led by Mr.Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) while Mr. Ken Morzia (SAN) leads other legal practitioners to represent the 2nd respondent just as Mr. Niyi Akintola (SAN) lead others to represent 3rd respondent

During yesterday’s sitting, the Justice Ahmed Badamasi led tribunal adjourned further hearing of the various applications by both the petitioners and the respondents to 7th December, 2016 to enable the parties filed their applications and responses.

While counsel to the petitioners, Mr. Adelodun told the tribunal that they were ready to commence with the pre-hearing, counsel to the APC and Godwon Obaseki, Niyi Akintola and Ken Morzia disagreed with him, informing the court that there are pending applications that were supposed to be heard before the pre-hearing.

Justice Ahmed Badamasi after listening to the counsel agreed with Akintola and Mozia after cross checking his records, saying there was no decision to commence pre-hearing on the petition, just as both counsel requested the tribunal to grant them date for the hearing of the application.

Mozia told the tribunal that one of his applications would summarily terminate the petition filed by the petitioners as it was incompetent. On his part, Counsel to INEC, Ikpeazu (SAN) asserted that he was not aware that yesterday was the date set for the pre-hearing and did not recieve any information to that effect from the Registrar of the Tribunal.

After listening to the parties, Justice Badamasi ruled that the petitioners must file their application latest 3pm on Saturday 3rd of December 2016 while the Respondents must file in their responses latest 7pm Monday 5th December 2016.

The legal fireworks continued when Counsel to Obaseki, Ken Mozia alerted the tribunal of an alleged breach of its earlier order that parties must be present during the scanning of ballot papers used for the election.

This was collaborated by Akintola (SAN), counsel for the APC who said it was shocking that such act was going on after the order from the court.

However, Counsel to the petitioners, Adelodun (SAN), lamented that his clients have been facing serious challenges which according to him amounted to an attempt by the Respondent to frustrate their petition.

According to him, one of such challenges was the insistence by the APC that each of their five representatives must examine the ballot papers an attempt, he said was a waste of time.

In its ruling, the Tribunal ordered that its earlier orders on the issue that all parties must be present before any sorting or inspection of ballot materials stands, adding that any party that fails to be available is on its own.