Election Petition Tribunal Dismisses Tinubu's Preliminary Objection

Oluremi Tinubu
The National Assembly/Legislative House Election Petition Tribunal yesterday dismissed the preliminary objection raised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to hear the application filed by the Labour Party (LP) call additional witnesses to testify in its petition challenging the election of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate, Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu.

In his ruling, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice A A Nwaigwe, noted that since it was INEC who raised the issue on non- submission of Labour Party candidate’s INEC Form EC 4B in its reply to the petition, there was need to call witnesses.

The tribunal said “We agree with the petitioner that is need to remove the cloud covering this aspect of the petition in the interest of justice by calling as witnesses those alleged to have taken part in the submission of the INEC Form”

“The petitioner has already filed the sworn deposition of the two witnesses, on the whole, we hold that the present application is meritorious and same is granted as prayed. Accordingly, leave is granted to the petitioner to add two additional witnesses’ statements on oath and call additional witnesses.”
The tribunal consequently granted LP leave to call additional witnesses to testify in its petition challenging the election of Tinubu. The two additional witnesses are Ebere Ifendu and Dapo Durosinmi Etti.

The INEC, ACN and Tinubu, had asked the tribunal to either strike out/ dismiss the petition without going into the substantive issues in the petition. But counsel to LP, Chief Chukwuma Ekomaru (SAN) had in a motion on notice dated June 20 sought leave of the tribunal to bring two additional witnesses.

But, lawyer to INEC, Mr. Wale Adetomiwa in it preliminary objection argued that the petitioner was out of time and should be denied the opportunity to call additional witnesses. Also, counsel to Remi Tinubu, Mrs. Alonge in her submission urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition for being fundamentally defective and vesting no jurisdiction on the tribunal to adjudicate on.

The tribunal has fixed January 4 for adoption of written addresses and conclusion of hearing.

The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos, it would be recalled, had directed that the election petition filed by Labour Party (LP) challenging the decision of the tribunal be heard de novo (afresh) by a new Election Panel to be constituted by the President Court of Appeal.