…. As Governorship Election Petition Tribunal Commences Sitting In Jos
From Yakubu Busari, Jos
Senator Useni and Governor Lalong with his wife displaying his Certificate of Return as Governor-elect of Plateau State, recently.
The Governorship Election Tribunal has commenced sitting over the petition filed by the People Democratic Party, PDP, candidate, Senator Jeremiah Timbut Useni with the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC and Governor Simon Lalong of the All Progressive Congress, APC, as respondents.
Useni is seeking the tribunal to disqualify Governor Simon Lalong as the elected Governor of Plateau state and announce him, Jeremiah Useni as winner.
Counsel to the petitioner, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, and Hon Edward Pwajok, SAN, have deposited their affidavit in response to Governor Simon Lalong’s counsel, Barr. Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, motion dated 21-06-2019 and filed on the 2-06-2019 with supporting, written address attached to it.
Ozekhome stated that “we hereby adopted everything in the counter affidavit on behalf of the petitioners”, and also drew the attention of the tribunal the objections raised on the competency of the support to their motion inside the originating summons.
According to him, under section 105 of the electoral act, removing a word in the affidavit would be a defect to their facts and evidence, which is before the tribunal.
Ozekhome explained further that their written address dated 17-05-2019 and attached to counter affidavit, are adopted “because these are very important to the petitioner’s argument by seeking the tribunal to grant reason best cause of action”
He said the applications was a complaint based on the fact that Governor Simon Lalong is lacking competent qualification to contest for the position of Plateau state governorship by presenting a certificate reading Barr. Simon Sule Lalong not Barr. Simon Bako Lalong as claimed.
Mike Ozekhome told the tribunal that the matter can be entertain because this is not pre-election issue, asking the tribunal to award all the votes cast on the election day should be mot be wasted votes but awarded to Sen. JT Useni .
He said: “We now see that his participation to contest has been faulted in some of our paragraphs which is dead on arrival, the facts raised are legally granted in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that had electoral mandate to mention.
Barr. Lateef Fagbemi and Barr. Garba Pwull of the 2nd and 3rd respondents sought to remove some of the identified items, which border on issues of qualification.
Lateef Fagbemi motion dated 26-05-2019 and filed on the 7-06-2019 asked for seven main grounds of relief anchored on 31 grounds with affidavit of 36 paragraphs in Ayuba Jacobs Esq.
“In support to the applications,we have a reply on point of laws. Another was on the 8-06-2019 and filed on the 10-06-2019 which has been taken over by events because we have already entered into the pre-hearing session so we hereby adopt relaying on the process as their argument,” he said.
He drew the attention of the tribunal to paragraphs 35 subsections 2.01 and 2.07 dealing with the need to rely on point of laws saying, “it is not enough that one comply to supplying facts, which has not offended the provision of law.”
Fagbemi stated that certain pages of the petitioner go against the provision of Electoral Act, especially paragraphs 37 where the second respondent argued that they had committed any infringement of the section 285 of the law.
He also sought for two prayers, asking the tribunal for extension of time to enable him file his argument in response to allegations levelled against Governor Simon Bako Lalong.
Meanwhile, counsel to the 3rd respondent, INEC, Barr Garba Pwull said he also filed a motion asking the tribunal secretary that the affidavit dully signed by the legal adviser, Barr.Nyam Arum would be adopted “as my point of argument in the petitioners case.”
He said : “There is a counter affidavit which serves as a motion to which we reacted by replying on point of laws. Our motion dated 7-06-2019 and was filed on the 9-06-2019 that was strictly on law not on technicality.
The 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents did not opposed to the applications brought by the petitioners and Justice Halima Salman granted them.
Useni and his party PDP has approached the tribunal seeking to quash the election of Governor Simon Lalong for presenting fake academic certificate to INEC during his first tenure in 2015 general poll .
Justice Halima Salman has adjourned the case to Saturday for pre-hearing session and 26-06-2019 for substantial suit to heard.