Niger Election Tribunal to Rule on Legal Representation of PDP Sunday

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By Laleye Dipo in Minna

The Niger State Governorship Election Tribunal will Sunday rule whether or not the lead counsel to the petitioner and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the March 2019 governorship election, Alhaji Umar Nasko, can be represented by Alhaji Abdulmalik Ndayako, who was the running mate to the petitioner in the election.

The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice J Igboji, reserved ruling following an application by
Mr Samuel Okutekpa (SAN), the lead counsel to the first respondent and governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, at the resumed sitting of the tribunal in Minna on Saturday.

Okutekpa, in the application, had objected to Ndayako representing the petitioner being an active participant in the matter that brought about the petition.

According to the counsel, Ndayako was the running mate to Nasko and as such under the law could not represent himself in the case.

After citing several legal references, Okutekpa presented two documents to show that Ndayako actually participated in the said election which the tribunal accepted as exhibits 1 and 2.

In his response to the application, the counsel to Nasko, Ndayako described the position of the lead counsel to the petitioner as an attempt to waste time, saying that the law allowed him to represent himself and the petitioner in the case before the tribunal.

Ndayako quoting rule 20 (1) of the professional ethics law, section 3 of the 3rd amendment to the electoral act and section 285 of the 1999 constitution said under the law he could represent the petitioner.

After consulting with the two other members of the tribunal, Justice Igboji fixed Sunday for ruling in the application.

The tribunal was filled to the brim with the leadership of the PDP including its state chairman, Tanko Beji, the candidate of the party in the March governorship election, Nasko, and former Niger State deputy governor, Dr Shem Zagbayi Nuhu, among others.

Security was also very tight at the state High Court complex venue of the sitting.