Edo Election Tribunal decides Obaseki, Shaibu, others’ fates by January 11

The Election Petitions Tribunal on the Edo State governorship election held on September 19, has fixed January 11, 2021, for the hearing of the remaining four petitions filed to challenge the victory of Governor Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Comrade Philip Shaibu at the poll.

Obaseki, Shaibu, their political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are the respondents in four remaining petitions out of the five petitions before the tribunal. The fifth petition by the Action Alliance (AA) and its governorship candidate, Ukonga Onaivi, was on Friday last week dismissed for failing to file for pre-hearing notice, which is one of the conditions required by the Electoral Act 2010.

The Justice Yunusa Musa-led three-member new tribunal sitting on Wednesday within the premises of Edo State High Court on Sapele Road, Benin, gave detailed reports of the pre-hearing sittings of the last two weeks.

Justice Musa, assisted by Justices Suleiman Yahaya Abubakar and Olufunmilayo Stanley, who last week replaced the disbanded Justice Abdulrazak Abdulkareem-led three-member tribunal, disclosed that hearing in the four petitions would be done separately on January 11, 12 and 13, 2021.

The remaining four other petitions to be decided by the tribunal were those filed by Action Democratic Party, ADP, and its governorship candidate, Iboi Emmanuel, Action Peoples Party (APP) without its governorship candidate, Amos Areloegbe; Allied Peoples Movement (APM), excluding its governorship candidate, Igbineweka Osamuede; and Tracy Agol, who sued without joining her political party, the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP.

Justice Musa, at Wednesday’s sitting, said that APP and Agol would have their petitions heard on January 11, APM’s petition e on January 12 and ADP’s petition would be on January 13.

All the four petitions canvassed for the nullification of Obaseki and Shaibu’s re-election and for a fresh election to be conducted by INEC, to exclude PDP, Obaseki and his running mate, in view of the call for their disqualification over alleged forgery of their certificates.

The tribunal’s inaugural sitting took place on October 30, with the tribunal having 180 days from the date of filing the petitions to conclude hearing in the matters and deliver judgments, thereby dragging to the first week of April next year.

ADP and its governorship candidate, in the petition with reference number: EPT/ED/GOV/01/2020, with INEC, PDP, Obaseki, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as respondents, prayed the tribunal to disqualify Obaseki over his controversial first degree certificate from the University of Ibadan (UI) and nullify the votes cast for him, thereby ordering INEC to conduct a fresh election involving all other qualified governorship candidates, excluding PDP and Obaseki.

Obaseki lost the bid to have Ize-Iyamu and APC’s names struck out, when the tribunal ruled on Tuesday that it would consider the petition in its own merit.

APM filed a petition with reference number: EPT/ED/GOV/04/2020, excluding its governorship candidate, Igbineweka Osamuede, with INEC, PDP, Obaseki and Shaibu as respondents, while alleging irregularities during the September 19 governorship election and that Obaseki and Shaibu were not qualified to contest the poll.

APM also prayed for an order nullifying the entire governorship election of September 19, 2020 in Edo state, for substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, and the extant Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, thereby ordering a fresh election.

The petition from Agol, with reference number: EPT/ED/GOV/05/2020, has INEC, PDP and Obaseki as respondents. The petitioner did not join her political party, the NNPP. She contended in the petition that Obaseki was not qualified to contest the September 19 election.

Her sole ground for filing the petition was that Obaseki, at the time of the poll, was not qualified to contest the election, quoting Section 138 (1) (a) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, while alleging that Edo governor presented forged/false certificate to INEC, contrary to Section 182 (1) (J) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, as amended.

The NNPP governorship candidate also prayed for an order to compel INEC to conduct fresh election involving all the qualified candidates, excluding PDP and Obaseki, whom she alleged were constitutionally disqualified from contesting the 2020 governorship election, while the certificate of return issued to Obaseki by INEC should be declared a nullity.

In the alternative, Agol sought a declaration that Obaseki’s participation in the election should be declared null and void, having participated in the primary election process of the APC and later the PDP, in respect of the same governorship election in Edo State.

APP, in the petition against Obaseki, PDP and INEC as respondents, with reference number: EPT/ED/GOV/02/2020, claimed that it was unlawfully excluded.

Ize-Iyamu, who came second in the September 19 poll, is not contesting the election at the tribunal but is pursuing his pre-election matters at the Federal High Court, Abuja, where he is challenging the PDP, Obaseki and Shaibu’s eligibility to contest the election.

Ize-Iyamu, who declared that the September 19 election in Edo was not free and fair, hinged the continuation of his pre-election matters on the refusal of PD to discontinue the 13 suits the PDP filed against him and his running mate, Mallam Gani Audu.

Edo chapter of PDP, though agreed that Ize-Iyamu had the right to approach the courts for whatever reason, it however claimed that it was trite for him to allude 13PDP’s suit as his excuse, adding that such was disingenuous and destined to fail.


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