David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka
The Anambra State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal presided over by Justice H. A Olusiyi, Monday dismissed an election petition brought before it by African Peoples Party (APP) against Governor Willie Obiano over the November 18, 2017 governorship election.
The party is praying the tribunal to hold that the election was invalid by reason of corrupt practices and non-compliance with the electoral Act 2010 as amended.
The party also prayed the tribunal to nullify the election or in alternative declare its candidate the winner of the election.
But counsel to Obiano, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), following an application he filed under Paragraph 18 sub 4 of the 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act, called for the dismissal of the petition.
The senior advocate, who led a team of lawyers, including, Ken Mozia, Pat Ikwuato, SAN, Emeka Etiaba (SAN) and a senior, counsel, Onyinye Anumonye, that the petition failed to request for and file forms that would have triggered a pre-trial conference.
He argued that based on the provisions of the section, the tribunal must conduct a pre-trial conference.
Ikpeazu also averred: “The parties are bound by the provisions of the Electoral Act, after pleading, and must request for the issuance of forms 007 and 008.
According to him this will enable the parties to file the necessary pre-hearing information that will enable the tribunal to conduct pre-hearing.
He argued to the effect that failure to file for requisition is a grievous electoral offence and should be dismissed for incompetence.
The counsel to the APP, Mr. Kingdom Okorie had pleaded with the tribunal to stand down proceedings on the matter or adjourn to enable him produce a letter that he claimed he filed, requesting for the issuance of the forms.
But Ikpeazu objected to the application on grounds that there was nothing in the file of the tribunal to show that the petitioner filed any application for issuance of the forms.
“Secondly, the tribunal is bound by its own records and the parties are bound by the recent position of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
“The apex court had held that any letter written by a lawyer on such a petition must be filed and there must be evidence of payment.”
He added that during proceedings, the secretary of the tribunal reported on the floor of the court that no letter was filed, requesting the tribunal for issuance of the forms.
In his ruling, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Olusiyi, refused to stand down the proceedings or adjourn the matter.
He said the petitioner did not present any application for the issuance of the forms necessary for the trial and therefore dismissed the petition.
Four political parties had dragged Obiano to the tribunal over the outcome of the state governorship election, which was adjudged to be very credible by independent observers and other monitoring groups.