From Lateef Bamgbose
The Ebonyi State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday, commenced hearing on the petition brought before it by Prof Benard Odoh of the All Progressives Grand Alliance against the newly inaugurated Governor, Hon. Francis Nwifuru.
Nwifuru, the immediate past Speaker of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission in the March 18, 2023 governorship election and has since been sworn-n, on Monday.
But Prof Odoh, in his petition before the tribunal, faulted the nomination of Governor Nwifuru as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the last elections. According to him, as at the time of the governor’s nomination, he was still a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, the platform which gave him the position of the Speakership for eight years .
When the pre-hearing of the Petition came up at the Court of Appeal Headquarters, Abuja, on Wednesday, Counsel to the Petitioner, Mr. J.S. Okutekpa (SAN), sought for a little time to enable all parties in the matter to compare notes on the issues to presented and determined during the proper hearing of the Petition.
“The application for the issuance of hearing notice was just served on me at about 9.41am this morning.
“The parties involved should be given time to study the pre hearing notice and other applications. There are other applications that should be served this morning too.
“Pursuant to the rules of this court, a date of pre hearing should be given to follow formalities. So that we won’t be running to Magu Vs Sule for interpretations,” Okutekpa submitted.
On their parts, Counsels to the APC, Mr Abdul Ibrahim (SAN); that of Governor Nwifuru, Barr Roy Nweze and that of INEC, Barr. Nnamdi did not object to it; even when they agreed they were ready for the pre-hearing of the matter.
In his ruling, the Lead Judge, Justice Adekanye Ogunmoye, adjourned sitting till Friday, 7th June, 2023, for pre-hearing, hoping that all parties would have been duly served and replied to all the processes.
Counsel to Odoh expressed confidence that the APGA candidate will prove his case in the court in the interest of justice, fair play and development of democracy in Ebonyi State and beyond.