Kwara election tribunal commences pre-hearing trial

AS the election petition tribunal in Kwara State commenced its pre-hearing trial on Wednesday, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last general elections in the state, Razaq Atunwa, has asked the tribunal to order for fresh elections.

The Action Alliance (AA) is also challenging the victory of the APC.

The counsel to the PDP governorship candidate and the PDP in the state, Kingsley Odeh, said that the winner of the polls, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was not qualified to contest the poll.

“Our ground was that the second respondent at the time of elections was not qualified. He gave a false certificate to INEC. Second, that he gave false information in aid of his educational qualification. In other words, when such prayers are made, the tribunal will have to nullify the election and order for a fresh election. That’s what we are seeking before the tribunal. We seek for fresh elections because the proper thing is if the second respondent is disqualified, it is to order for fresh elections and not for the petitioner to be sworn in as the rightful winner,” he said.

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At the pre-hearing session, meant to adopt petitioners’ answers to the pre-hearing information sheet, applications before the tribunal were filed and adopted.

The lead judge in the tribunal, Justice Bassey Effiong, who warned counsel against time-wasting, said that the tribunal would not extend the 14-day period for the pre-hearing trial.

Justice Effiong suggested that the petitions be consolidated by the counsels.

However, counsel to the INEC, Rowland Otaru SAN, said that the petition cannot be consolidated with that of Action Alliance, saying that each petition should be treated in its own merit.

“There are different issues raised in the two petitions and there are different counsels.

Otaru, who also argued that the tribunal proceedings would not take longer time than necessary, said that issues raised are documentary and witnesses are few.

He also said that the petitioner did not file a reply to INEC pleadings, adding that its a confirmation that INEC pleadings are solid.

The tribunal sitting continues on Thursday as it will continue to sit consecutively for 14 working days for the pre-hearing trial before the real trial.

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