The tribunal on the governorship election has commenced sitting in Lagos State and granted leave to the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Jimi Agbaje, to inspect all polling documents and devices used for the April 11, 2015 election in the state.
Tribunal chairman, Justice SylvanusOriji, granted the prayer of the petitioner, while ruling on an application filed by Agbaje through his counsel, Clement Onwuenmonor.
He also ordered the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide certified true copies of all polling documents, including printed data from card reader machines in each pollingunit in the state.
The orders were among the five prayers filed by the petitioner. The tribunal had earlier taken the submissions of Onwuenmunor and that of the All Progressives Congress (APC)represented by AdemolaSadiq.
In his reaction to the ruling, counsel to APC, Sadiq, did not object as he noted that the ruling was made on point of law.
Oriji warned lawyers against delaying the hearing and determination of election petitions before it adding that the tribunal would not tolerate strategies aimed at delaying the expeditious hearing and determination of petitions by lawyers.
He issued the warning during the inaugural sitting of the tribunal which has Justices K. Dabo and Kadi Yusuf as members.
The judge noted that election petitions were delicate and sensitive to handle because they must be heard and determined within 180 days as specified by Section 285 (6) of the 1999 Constitution. He said it had been established that any judgment delivered by an Election Tribunal in an election petition after 180 days from the date of filing was a nullity.
Oriji implored lawyers to give the tribunal the necessary co-operation at the pre-hearing conferences and throughout the hearing of the petitions.
“Without your co-operation, it will be difficult for the tribunal to succeed in its onerous task to conclude all the pending election petitions within 180 days as stipulated by the Constitution. In this regard, the tribunal will not tolerate any action or omission (or strategy) aimed at delaying or frustrating the expeditious hearing and determination of the petitions”, he added.
He also urged the lawyers to be guided by the rules of professional conduct for legal practitioners and show respect to the Bench and their colleagues while conducting their matters before the tribunal.