14 SANs appear at tribunal for Obiano, Ngige, others

By The Citizen

The Anambra  State Election Petitions Tribunal began seating on Tuesday with about 14 Senior Advocates of Nigeria announcing their presence for litigants at the tribunal.

The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ishaq Bello, announcing the commencement of proceedings, reminded the counsel that the whole world was tuned to Anambra State and that their conduct would go a long way to determine the opinion that the world would hold of the proceedings.

There are three main petitions at the tribunal, which are the ones by the All Progressives Congress and its candidate, Senator Chris Ngige; that of the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Mr. Tony Nwoye and that of a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance and its candidate, Dr. Chike Obidigbo.

Each of the petitioners is seeking to to nullify the declaration of Chief Willie Obiano of APGA as the winner of the November 16 and November 30, 2013 election or be declared the winner.

While Obidigbo is seeking to be declared the candidate for APGA in the election, Ngige and Nwoye are seeking to either cancel the November 16 governorship election or to declare them as winners.

The tribunal chairman said the tribunal would want the counsel to display a sense of maturity, commitment and seriousness they had shown on Tuesday throughout the sitting of the tribunal.

The tribunal gave each of the lead counsel 15 minutes to address the tribunal.

Patrick Ikwueto, SAN, counsel for APGA urged the tribunal to strike out the application brought by Obidigbo because it was a pre-election matter, arguing that the tribunal was not a forum to ventilate argument on who the National Chairman of APGA is.

Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, and Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, who were counsel for INEC, did not oppose the application.

But Maduabuchi Oba, who stood in for Prof. F.C. Dike, SAN,  for Obidigbo, opposed the application of Ikwueto and his colleagues and requested a short adjournment to include APGA in order not to be shut out on technical grounds which was granted him.

Before adjourning the tribunal, Bello said, 'We are here to de-emphasise on any form of technicalities, but we are here to allow every counsel to ventilate his mind.'

He therefore fixed February 14, 2014, for reply from all respondents.

On the matter between Ngige, Obiano, INEC and others, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, who appeared with Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN, sought for the striking out of the 5th respondent, African Congress of Democrats, which non of the counsel objected to.