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TRIBUNAL STRIKES OUT CASE AGAINST EKWEREMADU

By NBF News
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Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, yesterday secured victory at the Election Petitions Tribunal in Enugu when the petition challenging his victory at the last National Assembly elections was struck out.

In striking out the petition, the tribunal headed by Justice Abdulahi Liman, relied on the application filed by the petitioner, Chief Obinna Ezeofor, of the People for Democratic Change (PDC), asking for withdrawal of his petition. However, Senator Ayogu Eze would have to wait till July 8 to know his fate in a petition brought by Chief Mike Ajogwu (SAN) of the Labour Party in which he urged the tribunal to invalidate his (Eze's) election on the ground that there was no primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Enugu North senatorial district that nominated him for the election.

The tribunal also struck out the petition of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate for Oji River, Awgu-Aninri federal constituency, Victor Offordile Nwankwo, against the emergence of PDP's Tobias Okechukwu in the election. ?Ezeofor had in an application supported by a six-paragraph affidavit dated June 10, 2011, in accordance with the Electoral Act, urged the court to grant withdrawal of his petition on the ground that 'I have discovered there is no need for it and for the sake of continuity in the services being rendered to our Enugu West senatorial district by Ekweremadu'.

However, such was not the case with the petition against Ayogu Eze as Ajogwu insisted at the resumed hearing on the matter that he (Ayogu) was not a validly nominated candidate of PDP since he did not emerge from any primary of the party.

Relying on the Constitution, which he said was amplified further by section 281(a) of the Electoral Act, Ajogwu said the Constitution provided procedure for the emergence of any candidate in an election so as not to infringe on the interest of other candidates.

He asserted that his interest was infringed upon on election day when suddenly the name of Ayogu was announced as winner of the Enugu North senatorial election.

'The case before the court is absence of primary affecting the interest of another political party on election day. There can never be a challenger or candidate in the absence of primary. The Constitution provided for this in Section 281(a) and this could be seen as the skeleton. But the National Assembly provided the flesh on who was validly elected in its wisdom and competence and under the rule of consistently broke validity into two stages. That was done in section 133 of the Electoral Act and this is to help litigants know what to pursue,' he said.

He therefore, urged the tribunal to grant his petition and invalidate the election, stressing that since it was election day, he could not have gone anywhere to protest the anomaly except at the tribunal.

Counsel to PDP, Vin Ene, had urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition based on written submission he filed in the court. His position was also adopted by counsel to INEC, E.E. Ogbolu, who said the position taken by the Labour Party candidate could be likened to that of a team leader wanting to choose players of his opponent, stressing that such position fell short of good conscience.