•Promises to communicate judgement date to parties
From Chuks Onuoha Umuahia
Abia North Senatorial rerun Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, the state capital, yesterday concluded the adoption of its final written addresses, and informed parties in the case that they would be communicated on the date of judgment.
Chairman of the tribunal, Justice James Abundaga, opened the sitting by calling for the motion of the addresses and the adoption of the written addresses.
A member of the team of lawyers to the 1st Respondent, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, Mr Bolarinwa Awojola, opened the matter by urging the tribunal to strike out the petition of the petitioner on the ground of incompetence.
Awojola said that he was opposing the petition on 11 grounds contained in the written address his team submitted to the tribunal.
But counsel to Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, Kelvin Nwufo (SAN) who took the issues raised in the addresses of the respondents point by point opposed the application with a 5-paragraph counter affidavit accompanied by rules of the tribunal.
Nwufo argued that the cases cited by the 1st Respondents counsel were not applicable in the instant case, stating that the position of paragraph 4 (7) of the Electoral Act relied upon by the 1st Respondent’s counsel had been deleted by the amendment in the Electoral Act as shown in Section 38 by the Electoral Amendment Act of 2010.
He submitted that “the application which is hinged principally on paragraph 4 (7) of the Electoral Act should be struck out and dismissed as incompetent,”
Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), Mr Anagha Kalu, also urged the tribunal to strike out the petitioners case on the ground that the evidence of the forensic expert was based on hearsay and could not be relied upon.
But Nwufo opposed the application on the ground that the forensic witness who was appointed and trained by INEC could not be criticized and condemned by the electoral body. He said that the “2nd Respondent which appointed and trained PW 18 cannot be allowed in law to benefit from his shortcoming.”
In his remarks, Abundaga at the end of the adoption of the addresses, said that the panel was happy with the conduct of counsels to the parties.
“We will adjourn to prepare the documents and communicate the date to you. Somebody must win, somebody must lose, but we will do our best before men and the Almighty God. The important thing is that you are sure that those adjudicating are of utmost sincerity.”
Speaking to newsmen at the end of the session, counsels to Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, Chief Kelvin Nwufo (SAN) and Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, Mike Onyeka, expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the tribunal.
They both expressed hope that judgment would be delivered in their favour.