Pretrial: Tribunal Stikes Out Ogembe's Petition Against Natasha, Adopts Natasha's Petition Against Oseni, Others

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Kogi election petition tribunal sitting in Abuja on Thursday stroke out the petition of Senator Ahmed Ogembe of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenging the credibility of Natasha Akpoti of Socail Democratic Party (SDP) to participate in the last Kogi Central senatorial election.

However, the tribunal adopted Natasha’s petition against INEC, APC, and Oseni.

While ruling, the tribunal chairman ruled that since Barr. Natasha Akpoti of SDP was not declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) she cannot be a respondent to the suit by Senator Ogembe of PDP, while adopting Natasha’s suit against INEC, APC and Yakubu Oseni.

On the motion moved by APC and Yakubu Oseni’s counsel challenging the motion by Natasha Akpoti’s counsel seeking for consolidation of the case, the tribunal chairman ruled that,
“where two or more petitions are filed on the same matter, all petitions shall be consolidated and wouldn’t be treated differently.

“Therefore we hereby grant that petition number 2 and 8 be consolidated and be treated as one.”

The tribunal chairman adjourned hearing on the matter to 11th May, 2019 for continuation of pretrial.

Similarly Kogi State National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Msgistrate Court, Wuse zone 2, Abuja has struck out the petition brought before it by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the February 2019 House of Representatives election in Yagba Federal Constituency, Henry Tuesday Abimbola.

It is the first election petition to be decided upon by the Tribunal among all petitions arising from the February and March polls held in Kogi State

The Independent National Electoral Comission (INEC) had declared Elder Leke Abejide, candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) winner of the election. However Abimbola, in his petition, rejected the result as announced by INEC. He claimed the election was frought irregularities and malpractice and prayed for a rerun or he be declared winner of the election. He also sougjt access to election materials for inspection. Part of the allegations of malpractice raised in the petition also included alleged inducement/vote buying by Abejide, the ADC candidate through payment of WAEC fees to final year secondary school students in Yagba Federal Constituency.

At the hearing of the case on Wednesday, the three-man panel chaired by Mr A O Chijioke, dismissed the petition for lack of diligent prosecution.

The tribunal chairman had declined to grant the request of the petitioner for further adjournment after the initial adjournment on April 16 which was to allow him bring his witnesses. He had listed 26 witnesses to proof the authenticity of his petition.

Lead counsel to the petitioner, Barrister Aruwa made the fresh request for adjournment on the ground that he was unable to reach the petitioner who he said was sick. But the counsel to the respondent Oluwole Aladedoye objected to the request on the ground that the petitioner had made similar request on April 16. He contended that if Abimbola was truly sick, what stopped his party, APC which is co-petitioner to produce its own witnesses? He questioned the willingness of the petitioner to go on with the case and therefore pleaded with the panel to strike out the case for lack of seriousness on the part of the petitioner.

Counsels to ADC and INEC joined as co-respondent aligned with Aladejoye’s prayers.

The tribunal judges adjourned for 30 minutes for ruling on the request for adjournment.

At the resumed proceedings, the Tribunal Chairman who read the judgment refused to grant the prayer of the petitioner for further adjournment on the ground of failure by the petitioner and APC to present their witnesses in spite of the time provided for them to do so.

He averred that the counsels to the petitioner also failed to provide any medical evidence as prove that Abimbola was truly sick.

He ruled that the action of the petitioner amounted to “unserousness, gambling and testing the depth of water” adding that the tribunal is not a place for that.

He summarily granted the prayer of the respondent and struck out the petition for lack of diligent prosecution.

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