The Anambra Elections Tribunal sitting in Awka on Monday dismissed the petition of African Peoples Party (APP) challenging the victory of Gov. Willie Obiano in the Nov. 18, 2017 election.
The APP had petitioned the tribunal against Obiano, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) first second and third respondents for non compliance to Electoral Act.
Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), lead counsel to Obiano, argued that the petitioner had not shown enough commitment to pursue the matter having failed to apply for the pre-hearing notice within the stipulated period. He asked the tribunal to strike out the petition since the electoral act did not provide for extension of time within which the application should be made. His position was supported by Patrick Ikweto (SAN) and C.O. Ngoka lead counsels to second and third respondent who argued that the petitioner had abandoned the matter because they had no case. Nnamdi Okere, counsel to the petitioner, appeared when the ruling was being written and made to announce his appearance, but was halted by the chairman of the tribunal, Justice H.A. Olusiyi to avoid distraction. Olusiyi said he should allow the tribunal to write the ruling on what had been heard but assured that he would be allowed to speak even when it was against the norm. Efforts by Okere to be heard before he was called up caused a row between him and Ikweto who accused him of unprofessional conduct. When he was eventually allowed to speak, Okere said his client had not abandoned his case and it should not be struck out since they were in court. The counsel said he applied for pre-hearing notice in handwriting on Jan.15 but could not provide the receipt or his own copy of the form. Okere prayed the court to produce the application as it should be in its record or allow him two hours to produce his copy, a prayer he later commuted to application for adjournment. In a swift reaction, Mr Surajo Gusau, Secretary of the tribunal said he had no such letter in his file nor issued receipt to that effect as the law required. Surajo produced the receipt booklet and informed the court that Okere’s claim was not true. In his ruling, Olusiyi dismissed the application that the ruling should be stood down adding that the petitioner had not met the requirement to activate the proper hearing of the case. He said there was no iota of truth in the claim that the petitioner applied for pre-hearing notice and even if it was true, it was done out of time going by the date the petitioner claimed. He said the matter was struck out as abandoned. In a related development, the matter between Dr Paul Obianaso of the African Democratic congress (ADC) and the same respondents was adjourned till March 23, 2018, as the petitioner’s counsel Emeka Egbapuonwu was absent on health ground.