The National/State Assemblies Petition Tribunal sitting in Makurdi, Benue State presided over by Justice M. L. Abimbola has fixed Monday, October 31st, 2011 for hearing a petition brought before it by Rt. Hon. Terngu Tsegba, PDP against the electoral victory of the Senate Minority leader, Dr. George Akume, ACN at the recently concluded National Assembly polls in March/April 2011.
The decision came following the conclusion of a pre-trial conference during which the respondent’s application dated 29th September, 2011 and filled on September 30th 2011 seeking to struck out certain portion of the petitioner’s witnesses statement on oath was held in abeyance.
When the application was moved by counsel to the Benue North West Senator, Joe Abaagu, Esq. the petitioner’s counsel S. A. Udaga prayed the tribunal to stand down the application to enable him reply. It was agreed that the application be put on abeyance and any objection to it be taking on point of tendering evidence since the application bothered on witness statement on oath for want of time.
The petitioner has been granted two days beginning from Monday October 31st 2011 to make and close his case.
The first and second respondent applicants have two days for defense while the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC has been given 1 day.
It would be recalled that before the justice Abimbola panel was constituted, an earlier panel that was constituted at the inception of elections tribunals to try cases of election petitions disqualified itself from entertaining the matter upon application by counsel to Senator Akume.
The new panel is made up of Justice M. L. Abimbola as chairman while Justices Y. A. Bashir and K. C. Nwankpa are members.
Meanwhile in a related development, the National/State Assembly petition tribunal dismissed two separate petitions challenging the election of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Ezekiel Adaji representing Otukpo/Ohimini federal constituencies in the National Assembly.
Delivering the two separate judgment, chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ansellem Nwaigwe held that the petitioners, Hon. Nelson Alapa, ANPP and Hon. Musa Alechenu, ACN failed to seek the leave of the tribunal for pre-trial conference.
According to the chairman, since there was no other time left under which any application could be raised, the two petitions are considered to be abandoned.
The two petitions were dismissed as abandoned.
Justice Nwaigwe said he was guided by the proceedings of the appeal tribunal in Makurdi which had earlier nullify the pre-trial conference in the case of Prof. Steve Ugbah, ACN against Benue state governor, Gabriel Suswam PDP.
Kenneth Ikonne, Hon. Ezekiel Adaji’s counsel described the verdict as the manifestation of sound judgment which according to him is expanded to cover new issues in jurisprudence.
No cost was attached to the judgment. Ikonne said it was in the spirit of reconciliation.