Election tribunal declines to strike out petition against Ekweremadu’s election

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The National and State Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal in Enugu State on Monday refused an application filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to strikeout the petition challenging the re-election of Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu.

The petitioner, Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is challenging the results of the February 9 senatorial election in Enugu West that returned Ekweremadu, PDP, as winner.

In a ruling, tribunal Chairman, Justice Haruna Kereng after listening to arguments by counsel in the matter, therefore fixed June 10 for commencement of hearing.

Earlier, PDP through its Counsel, A. I. Ani, SAN, prayed the tribunal to strike out certain paragraphs of the petition which it considered“ incongruous to the provisions of Nigerian Constitution on fair hearing”.

Tochukwu Maduka, who held the brief for Ani, argued that the paragraphs sought to be struck out raised criminal allegations against persons not listed as respondents.

Ani said that the reliefs sought in the application did not question the jurisdiction of the tribunal in entertaining the matter but to strikeout offensive paragraphs.

The counsel, therefore, prayed the tribunal to look at the affected paragraphs and decide on the issues raised before hearing the petition.

“These are not issues the tribunal can wait for as they raise allegations against persons who have not been made parties to the petition as well as the competence of some of the grounds of the petition,” he said.

Ani said that the tribunal would run foul of the provisions of Section 36 of the Constitution if it failed to strike out the affected paragraphs before hearing the petition.

However, counsel to the petitioners, K. P. Luke described the application as incompetent, treacherous and irritating.

Luke said that the tribunal had the requisite jurisdiction to hear all the paragraphs of their petition.

“These paragraphs they refer to touch on the competence of our petition. At this stage, the tribunal cannot determine or strike out any paragraph.

“It is the law that border on competence is determined on judgment day,” he said.

The counsel said that the application of the PDP was dead on arrival as the major paragraphs of their affidavit were grossly flawed, incompetent and contained legal contentious issues and arguments.

He said that such contentious issues were in conflict with Section. 112 of the Evidence Act.

Luke urged the tribunal to take judicial notice of its ruling of May 15 wherein it reserved ruling on a similar application until judgement day.

The counsel, therefore, urged the tribunal to discountenance the application.

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