Benard Ifeanyi Odoh, the governorship candidate for the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), filed a petition with the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal at the National Judicial Institute (NJI) in Abuja, and the tribunal has now reserved its ruling on the plea.
Odoh is contesting Governor Francis Nwifuru’s victory in the Ebonyi State governorship election held on March 18, 2023.
On Friday, the three-person tribunal panel presided over by Justice Adekanye Lekan Ogunmoye said that the date for judgement would be informed to the attorneys representing all parties.
You may recall that in July, Odoh, the APGA candidate for governor, had his lawyer, Jibrin S. Okutepa, submit a final written address consisting of 104 paragraphs to the governorship election petition panel.
Okutepa argued that the petition was supported by Section 177 (c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) (as amended).
For the sole issue before the court, Okutepa stated: “The summary of the petitioners’ petition is that the second respondent, who was until and after the election, a member of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly and also occupied the office of the Speaker of the said house on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was not qualified to contest the election to the seat of Gov.
He emphasized the several pieces of evidence (Exhibit P1-P9) submitted in support of the claims in compliance with the Evidence Act. Okutepa further mentioned that the claims were supported by Exhibit R6, which was introduced through the evidence of the second Respondent’s witness.
After hearing the petition, the tribunal heard closing arguments from Onyechi Ikpeazu, representing the Second Respondent, and A. A. Ibrahim, SAN, representing the Third Respondent, urging dismissal of the petition.
Ikpeazu argued against bringing suit on the basis of a vacated judgment, citing procedural and jurisdictional hurdles.
Ibrahim countered that the petitioner had not provided sufficient evidence to establish forgery allegations, referring to Section 176(2) of the Electoral Act.
Meanwhile, Justice Ogunmoye expressed regret that the adoption date had to be moved from Monday to today, Friday, citing travel cancellations as the cause.
Support InfoStride News' Credible Journalism: Only credible journalism can guarantee a fair, accountable and transparent society, including democracy and government. It involves a lot of efforts and money. We need your support. Click here to Donate