Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The Benue State governorship election tribunal has adjourned to August 15, 2019, for the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) to open its defense.
The electoral umpire was supposed to open its defense on Thursday in a petition which was filed by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Emmanuel Jime, against the election of Governor Samuel Ortom.
When the case resumed on Thursday, INEC’s counsel, Offiong Offiong, (SAN) made an oral application for adjournment, citing logistical reasons, adding that INEC would also open and close its defense on that same day.
“My lords, the matter was fixed for the 1st respondent (INEC) to open defence. Regrettably, due to logistical challenges, we are unable to open today.
“We have reached a consensus (with my brothers of the inner bar for the 2nd and 3rd respondents and the petitioners) that the matter be adjourned to Thursday. I’ve given them my undertaking, that on that day we will open and close our case.
“In the light of that, we are requesting the honourable tribunal to adjourn the matter August 15, 2019.”
Responding, counsel to People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) Chris Uche, (SAN) and that of Governor Ortom, Chief Edward Ashiekaa, (SAN) confirmed the submission of the INEC counsel, positing that counsels had agreed that going forward, certain adjustments should be made to timeline for all parties previously agreed upon.
Counsel to Emmanuel Jime and the APC, Kehinde Eleja, also confirmed the understanding between the parties.
Ruling on the matter, the tribunal chairman, Justice Adebola Olusiyi adjourned to August 15,2019, for INEC to open its defense, and commended the parties for the maturity and their resolve to enable the tribunal to complete its work on time.
“We are satisfied with adjustment of time to allow the tribunal sufficient time to prepare its decision. The application for extension of time is hereby granted.
“This petition is adjourned to August 15, 2019, to enable the 1st respondent open defence,” Justice Olusiyi said.