S'Court Orders Tribunals To Hear Akwa Ibom, Benue Guber Election Petitions
ABUJA, November 14, (THEWILL) – The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and its candidates in Akwa Ibom and Benue States, Senator John Akpanudoedehe and Professor Steve Ugbah respectively Monday secured a landmark ruling at the Supreme Court which ordered the governorship election petition tribunals in the two states to hear the petitions filed by the party and its candidates.
In a unanimous ruling delivered by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, the apex court also ruled that judges must stop dismissing election petitions on technical grounds.
The candidates had challenged two separate court of Appeal rulings which dismissed their petitions on techinicalities having picked holes in the mode used to file their pre-hearing notices.
The apex court ruled that pre-hearing notices could be filed in whatever form including by mouth, therefore putting an end to the controversies surrounding the legal mode of filing pre-hearing notices. It said petitions must be heard on their merits.
“It is too early for me to start losing my head. What is the difference between a letter or ex-parte motion?,” the CJN asked.
“Everybody is watching us, so I am begging you in the name of justice, matters should be decided on their merits and not technicalities.
“The justice of the matter is that the appeals be remitted back for hearing on their merits. I don’t know why judges should go on with the basis of pre-hearing conference alone to dismiss a petition without hearing it on its merit. Matters must be decided on their merits.
“The appeal succeeds and it is hereby ordered that the tribunal should hear the appeals on their merits,” the Supreme Court ruled.
Udoedehe is challenging the victory of Akwa State Governor, Dr. Godswill Akpabio (PDP), while Ugbah is contesting the victory of Benue State Governor, Mr. Gabriel Suswam (PDP). Both have alleged electoral fraud.
With the Supreme Court ruling, the President of the Court of Appeal is expected to reconstitute new governorship election petition tribunals in the two states.