Airhiavbere suffers another setback at Edo Polls tribunal

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The petition of Maj.-Gen Charles Airhiavbere, the PDP candidate in the July 14 gubernatorial election in Edo State suffered another setback yesterday as the State Election Petitions Tribunal yesterday struck out his application to bring in additional witnesses in his bid to reverse the re-election of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as Governor of the state.

General Arhiavbere had challenged the July 2012 election on two major grounds: the academic qualification of Governor Oshiomhole and alleged irregularities in the election in contravention of the Electoral Act.

The tribunal had on September 27 struck out parts of the petitioner’s application on the alleged non-qualification of Comrade Oshiomhole based on his educational qualification, citing lack of jurisdiction in compliance with the provision of the constitution. The tribunal maintained that the issue of education qualification is a pre-election matter which ought to have been taken before a Federal High Court prior to the election

At the petition’s sitting on Monday, Maj-Gen Arhiavbere (petitioner) had requested leave of the court to bring in additional witnesses to testify on his behalf to which Counsel to Governor Oshiomhole (1stRespondent) and ACN (2nd respondent) filed a counter-application asking the court to dismiss the petitioner’s application, on the ground that it had been overtaken by events.

The 3rd respondent, INEC, aligned itself with the position of the 1st and 2nd respondents seeking leave of the court to strike out the petitioner’s application.

The tribunal which also concluded its pre-trial conference yesterday decided that the live issue for determination before it at the main trial is the issue “whether the petitioner’s allegation that the gubernatorial election of 14th July is invalid by reason of corrupt practices and non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended ought to be sustained having regard to the evidence adduced and the remaining paragraphs of the petition.”

Counsel to Comrade Oshiomhole, Chief Adeniyi Akintola, SAN, told reporters yesterday that the Governor’s team is prepared for the remaining part of the case if the petitioner is ready.

The State Deputy Governor, Dr Pius Odubu told reporters that the case had been unnecessary from inception and that live issues before the tribunal are inconsequential to the determination of the winner of the July 14, 2012 election.

The tribunal adjourned further sitting to the October 23, 2012.

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