Friday, 12 August 2016

Abia North Rerun: Tribunal concludes adoption of written addresses, promises to communicate judgment date to parties

By on 16:28
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The Abia North senatorial rerun Election petition tribunal sitting in Umuahia,  yesterday concluded the adoption of  their final written addresses, and informed parties in the case that they would be communicated on the date of  judgment when they must have gone through their submissions.
 Justice James Abundaga, Chairman of the tribunal opened the sitting by calling for the motion for the addresses and the adoption of the written addresses.
A member of the team of  lawyers to the 1st Respondent, embattled Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, Mr Bolarinwa Awojola opened the matter  by urging the tribunal to strike out the petition of the petitioner on the ground of incompetence.
Awojola  said that he was opposing  the petition on 11 grounds contained in the written address they  submitted to the tribunal.

But counsel to Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, Kelvin Nwufo (SAN) who took the issues raised in the addresses of the respondents point by point opposed the application with a 5-paragraph counter affidavit accompanied by rules of the tribunal.
 Nwufo  argued that the cases cited by the 1st Respondents counsel were not applicable in the instant case,  stating  that the position of paragraph 4 (7) of the Electoral Act relied upon by the 1st Respondents counsel had been deleted by the amendment in the electoral Act as shown in section 38 by the Electoral Amendment Act of  2010.
He submitted  that  “the application which is hinged principally on paragraph 4 (7)  of the Electoral Act should be struck out and dismissed as incompetent,”
Counsel to INEC, Mr Anagha Kalu, also urged the tribunal to strike out the petitioners case on the ground that the evidence of the Forensic expert was based on hearsay and could not be relied upon.

But Nwufo opposed it stating  that the application on the ground that the forensic witness who was appointed and trained by INEC could not be criticized and condemned by the electoral body.
He said: that the “2nd Respondent which appointed and trained PW 18 cannot be allowed in law to benefit from his shortcoming.”     
In his remarks, the Chairman of the tribunal said at the end of the adoption of the addresses that the panel was happy with the conduct of counsels to the parties.
 “We will adjourn to prepare the documents and communicate the date to you. Somebody must win, somebody must lose, but we will do our best before men and the Almighty God. The important thing is that you are sure that those adjudicating are of utmost sincerity.”
Speaking to newsmen at the end of the session, counsels to Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, Chief Kelvin Nwufo (SAN) and Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, Mike Onyeka, expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the tribunal sitting .
They both expressed hope that judgment would be delivered in their favour.
Nwufo , however noted that going by the life span of the tribunal the judgment would be delivered before September 10, 2016.
It could be recalled that Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, former Governor of Abia State and candidate of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) in the Abia North Senatorial dragged the PDP candidate Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, who was declared winner of the Abia North election by INEC to the tribunal, asking to be declared winner of the rerun having scored the highest number of votes.

Gbenga Dan Asabe

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