By Tony Ehighiale, Benin City
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki and the All Progressive Congress have asked the state Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Benin City to throw out the petition filed by the Young Democratic Party (YDP) and its governorship candidate, Nurudeen Inwanfero, for lack of merit.
Nurudeen, in the petition, is asking the tribunal to cancel the entire September 28 governorship election because the party’s logo was not included in the ballot papers used for the election.
At the resumed pre-hearing session of the tribunal, Lead counsel to the APC, Lateef Fagbemi, in his application urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition and ‘give it a descent burial’ because there was no reasonable cause of action.
Fagbemi informed the tribunal that the petitioners filed two petitions at the tribunal and also filed a notice of discontinuous on one of the petition without complying with the Electoral Act.
He said issues raised by the petitioner were pre-election matters that are not within the purview of the tribunal to decide whether INEC was right or wrong.
Fagbemi argued that the petitioner was wrong to use the words ‘lawfully excluded and corrupt practices’ in the petition when the petitioner did not participate in the election.
His words, “Having regard to the Electoral laws, has the petition complied with the Electoral Acts. All the decision referred to are not relevant and do not apply to election matters. The law has proscribed what is to be done. Withdrawal is not automatic.
“This tribunal is not to deal with pre-election matter. Whether INEC is wrong or right not to recognize their logo is not within the purview of the tribunal. I urged your Lordship to give the petition a descent burial. It is dead on arrival.”
Lead counsel to INEC, Mr. Onyebuchi Ikpeazu, said there was no reason to oppose Fagbemi’s application because he found no justification for the petition.
Lead counsel to Obaseki, Wole Olanipekun said it would be hypocritical for him to oppose the application.
Counsel to YDP, Ugo Nwofor, opposed the application and described it as an abuse of court process.
Nwofor said arguments in the application were already dealing with the substantive matter.
Chairman of the three-man panel, Ahmed Badamasi, adjourned sitting to December 8th for ruling on the application.