Delta Guber: Tribunal Dismisses APC, O’tega’s Five Motions Seeking Extension of Time

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APC-Governorship-candidate-in-Delta-State-Otegar-EmerhorA three-man panel of the  Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal ,  chaired by Justice Nasiru  Gunmi  Monday, in Asaba, threw out  another set of  five motions brought by All Progressive Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate , Olorungun  O’tega  Emerhor.

Emerhor and the APC had sought the leave of the tribunal for enlargement  of time  to include additional information to  their petition.

The motion also sought the tribunal’s permission to compel PDP and INEC   by way of response, to furnish the tribunal with more facts about the petition.

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Dr. Aliex Iziyon (SAN), counsel to Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, the Delta State governor, vehemently  opposed the application after adopting his written address ,and   submitted  that section 45(1) of the electoral act is not a magic umbrella  , adding that the electoral act forbids the tribunal the powers  to grant the  application . He further argued that rules advanced by the petitioner were not tenable.

Counsels to PDP and INEC , A.T Kehinde  and Damian D. Dodo (SAN) respectively ,  also opposed the application, relying on section 285(1)  of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria and  section 134 of the Electorial Act. They informed the tribunal that the combined effect of the two sections curtail the powers of the tribunal to grant the extension of time.

Chairmen   of the Tribunal Justice Nasiru  Gunmi  , in his ruling on the motion said the application lacked merits because it violated  section 17(1)(2)  of the Electoral Act , as Emerhor and APC  failed to keep within the time limit of ten days  within which  to file their motion.

Justice Gunmi  averred that “ If  a party in an election petition ,  wishes  to have  further  particulars or other directions about the tribunal , such party may do so at  any time but not more than ten days after the filing of the reply  from the respondents”,  adding “that if the party does not apply as provided for in  the electoral act , it is  taken that they do not require any further particulars or direction” ,  and the prayers  shall be be granted.

He further postulated that “The applicants application is in breach of  section 17(1) of the first schedule of the electoral  act , which requires the applicant to file their application  within ten days ,  as time allowed has expired , and the question now is whether   this tribunal can extend time.  In a situation like this, the tribunal is bound to exercise it powers as contained in section 17 (1)  of the electoral act.  Equally section 17(2) prohibits this tribunal from extending time, it restricts the tribunal from exercising such power for time extension” .

He ruled that “If the tribunal lacks powers to grant a particular relief, it is   duty abound to refuse such application , in the end we agree with the submission of the respondents counsel (PDP ,INEC) ,  in the end we refuse this application and it accordingly dismissed”.

Counsel to Emerjor, Thompson Okpoko earlier argued that , section 17(1) (2), of the electoral act permits what his client was asking. He argued that if a party to an election petition wishing to have better and further particulars. He can apply to the tribunal, adding that  by reason of that provision that has prompted them to file the motion  for time enlargement the application was brought because they were unable to meet the stipulated time as contained in the electoral act.

In a similar motion brought by APC and Otega, through its counsel, Mr. Okpoko, the petitioners sought the leave of the tribunal  to call  for seven additional witness on oath  in their petition .

The respondents’ counsels lead by Dr. Alex Iziyon equally opposed the application, saying the petitioners failed to carry out the mandatory front loading in their previous petitions and motions and urged the court to also dismiss the application.

Justice Gunmi has reserved August 5, 2015 for ruling on the matter ,  whether to allow the APC and O’tega to call  for   seven additional witness in the petition.

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