TOSIN AJUWON, AKURE
The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ondo State has reserved judgment till April after the adoption of written addresses by parties.
The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Umar Abubakar, said the date would be communicated to all parties later.
The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), is challenging the victory of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) in the October 10 governorship election.
Counsel to the Petitioner, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) while adopting the written address ad queried the validity of the Chairman Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) of the APC, Mai Mala Buni, of signing Akeredolu’s nomination form.
He asked if Buni, who is the Yobe State governor, would have signed his own sponsorship form if the election had also taken place in Yobe.
Dr. Ikpeazu prayed the tribunal to grant the reliefs sought by Jegede, which emphasized that Akeredolu and his deputy, Henry Aiyedatiwa, were not validly nominated by the APC.
He said, “If the election was to take place in Yobe State, would His Excellency, Mai Mala Buni, sign his own sponsorship form?”
Counsel to Akeredolu, Akin Olujimi (SAN), and that of the APC, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), however, prayed the tribunal to dismiss Jegede’s petition.
They contended that Jegede admitted in Paragraph 12 of his petition the sponsorship of third and first respondents, but failed to prove that they were not validly nominated.
They argued that the petitioner’s positions were inconsistent and forbidden by the law, adding that the petition was not properly instituted.
They also told the tribunal that it lacked the jurisdiction to interpret section 183 of the constitution on which the petitioner hinged his prayers.
But, Ikpeazu told the tribunal that the petitions were explicit and properly instituted, arguing that the petitions rested on section 138(1) of the Electoral Act.
Ikpeazu added, “No sponsorship is valid if it contravenes section 177 (C) of the constitution. The case brought before the tribunal is challenging the inability of the second respondent to apply section 177 (C) of the Nigerian constitution in sponsoring the third and fourth respondents.”