Tribunal dismisses APGA’s petition against APC, INEC in Kogi governorship tussle

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The Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal for Kogi State has dismissed of the petition filed against the All Progressives Congress and the Independent National Electoral Commission by Akwu Goodman.

Goodman was the governorship candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance in the November 21, 2015 election in Kogi State.

The APGA candidate is challenging the election of Governor Yahaya Bello, while the APC and INEC were joined as 2nd and 3rd respondents

At the resumed sitting on Friday, Justice Halima Muhammad, the Chairman of the Tribunal, dismissed the petition against APC and INEC, saying APGA did not follow the due process of the law.
Justice Muhammad said the petitioner failed to comply with the provisions of Section 18(4) as well as Section 18 (1) of the 1st schedule of the 2010 Electoral Act

Section 18 (1)A of the of the 1st schedule of the 2010 Electoral Act provides: “The petitioner shall apply for pre-hearing papers within seven days of the respondent’s response reply.”
Also, Section 18(4) stipulates: “Where the petitioner and respondent fail to bring an application under the said paragraph, the tribunal or court shall dismiss the petition as abandoned petition.”

The Chairman submitted that the petitioner did not follow the due process as stipulated by the law.
Muhammad said the petitioner ought to have notified both parties, the APC and INEC, by also serving each of them the pre-hearing papers and not only the tribunal.
INEC’s Counsel, Chikezie Ekeocha, had earlier urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition for not playing by the rules.
Ekeocha also informed the tribunal that he had filed a motion predicated on five grounds and written addresses on why the APGA petition must be dismissed.

The Counsel to the APC, Muiz Banire (SAN) and Abdullahi Aliyu (SAN), also aligned themselves with the prayers of INEC.
Promise Ogbadu, Counsel to the candidate of APGA, also filed a counter affidavit and written addresses on why the petition must remain.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that following the ruling, Bello remains the only respondent in the petition.
The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal also on Friday dismissed a petition filed before it by the African Democratic Congress against INEC.
Justice Halima Muhammad, the Chairman of the tribunal, said that the petition was dismissed because ADC failed to meet the requirement of the electoral laws.

The ADC, which has Zainab Usman as its governorship candidate in the November 21, 2015 election, is challenging the election of Alhaji Yahaya Bello (1st respondent) as the governor of Kogi State.
INEC was joined in the suit as the 2nd respondent.
The chairman said the petition was also dismissed in line with the prayers of the INEC Counsel, Chikezie Ekeocha, who filed a motion before the tribunal.
Ekeocha, in his motion, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition on the basis that the petitioner did not file the pre-hearing papers within the stipulated seven days allowed by the electoral law.
Muhammad cited the provision of Section 18(1) of the 1st Schedule of the 2010 Electoral Act to support the decision of the tribunal.

He said: “Section 18(1) of the 1st Schedule of the 2010 Electoral Act stipulates that within seven days of the petitioner’s response to the respondent’s reply, the petitioner shall apply for pre-hearing papers which he fails to do.
“The petition is hereby abandoned and dismissed against the 1st respondent since the petitioner did not meet up with his responsibility.”

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that with the dismissal of the ADC’s petition, which earlier joined INEC as second respondent, the case is now between Bello and the party.
The tribunal has reserved ruling on an application in a substantive suit by the ADC seeking the removal of the word “only” in one of its documents before the tribunal.

The ADC told the tribunal that “only” was a “mistake or an oversight”.
The chairman of the Tribunal, however, said the application by the petitioner to remove “only” from its document was not enough to dismiss the petition.

The tribunal was responding to the Counsel to Governor Bello, Abdullahi Aliyu, who urged the tribunal to dismiss ADC’s petition based on its application to remove “only” from its document.
The case has been adjourned to March 18 for continuation of pre-hearing.

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