By NBF News

AWKA - Anambra State National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Awka, Monday dismissed the application by counsel to Senator Chris Ngige, Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN, that the tribunal no longer had jurisdiction to continue the hearing of the petition by Professor Dora Akunyili because the 180 days allowed by the constitution had elapsed.

Chairman of the tribunal, Justice P. O. Onajite Kuejibola, in her ruling, said the matter would be tried on its merit, stating that the 180 days provided for tribunal matters to end would start counting from November 16, 2011, when the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu referred the matter back to the tribunal.

She said the era of tribunal matters being dismissed on technical ground was over.

She added that the case would be heard to determine who won the April 2011 election for Anambra Central senatorial zone between Ngige and Akunyili.

She observed that it would amount to denial of justice not to look at the votes scored by each candidate in the election and urged both parties to prepare for the hearing of the cases which is likely to begin next week.

Akunyili, who contested the April 2011 election for Anambra Central senatorial seat on the platform of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, is challenging the election of Ngige of Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, for the zone.

The Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu had in a judgment ordered that the petition be heard on its merit following the appeal filed by Akunyili challenging the dismissal of her petition by the lower tribunal last month in Awka.

Senator Ngige was not in court yesterday, but Professor Akunyili who spoke with reporters said she had implicit confidence in the Nigerian judiciary to look at the mater dispassionately.

'I believe they will do justice to the matter. The issue is who won the election and I know the tribunal will look at the figures scored by two of us to determine who won the election.

'The era of dismissing tribunal cases on technical ground was over and I am happy the tribunal has ruled that the life of the petition started on November 16, 2011 which was the day the Court of Appeal ordered that the matter be returned to the tribunal for proper trial.'