From Chuks Collins, Awka

The panel One of the Election Petition tribunal sitting in Awka has been told that the People’s Democratic Party(PDP) had no candidate during the Feb 23,2019 poll in the Njikoka/Anaocha/Dunukofia Federal Constituency and that no one’s name was published or displayed as copiously required by the relevant guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC).

This was disclosed by the star witness -Chief Sam Osita Oraegbunam presented by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate and the incumbent who is seeking reelection, Chief Dozie Nwankwo at the opening of the hearing today in Awka.

Dr Kayode Olatoke (SAN), counsel to Chief Nwankwo leading Oraegbunam in evidence, presented series of documents including results of the wards, council and copy of the declared result, as well as some other INEC documents which he said proved that PDP had no candidate at the election.

Nwankwo is challenging the declaration of Barrister Valentine Ayika as winner of the Feb 23,2019 election instead of himself, hence wants him disqualified because according to him the PDP had no candidate in the election.

But earlier during the pre-hearing, Ayika, represented by Mr Fidelis Anyanegbu said he was challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal on the petition, hence wants it struck out.

But Ayika’s position was compounded by the interest shown in the matter by one Dr Richard Egenti who was also claiming to be the candidate of the PDP in the election, reason he has been making frantic to be joined in the suit.

However in a detailed ruling, on May 17,2019 the tribunal struck out Egenti’s application, pointing out that by virtue of Sec 397 of the Electoral Act(EA)he was not qualified to stand as party in the matter as construed by that specified relevant section of the Electoral Act.

Consequently, the tribunal panel therefore set May 27,2019 date for hearing of the Motion on its jurisdiction on the matter and the pre-hearing conference. It also gave all parties upto that date to file their responses on the Motion.

The panel then unveiled its Hearing Order/schedule and obtained each party’s proposed schedule of preceding, including the number of documents to be tendered, number of its witnesses, proposed time on any -witness, cross examination and re-examination. And also the number of days each expect to spend in presenting and wrapping up their presentations and arguments.

This streamlining of activities including the number relevant key witnesses and documents, the panel noted, was to ensure a quick conclusion of the petition once the proper hearing commences.

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