The Justice Onajite Kuejubola-led Election Petitions Tribunal, Awka, has fixed November 22 for hearing of petition by Professor Dora Akunyili (APGA) against Dr. Chris Ngige (ACN) in the poll conducted for Anambra Central senatorial zone.

Prof. Dora Akunyili

This was sequel to the order of the Court of Appeal, Enugu which directed that the matter be heard on merit, even as Ngige made further efforts to stall hearing of the petition at the lower court on Friday.

When the matter was called up for mention, counsel to Ngige, Mr. Emeka Ngige (SAN) said: “We were served a hearing notice that this matter was coming up for mention today.

“We have made efforts to inform the tribunal of some important issues.
“First, we have a pending appeal number 39 at the Court of Appeal, Enugu. The one that was concluded was the petitioner’s appeal number 37.

“Since the court of appeal Rules and Acts have provisions for issues like this, the court below should cease to determine the matter, pending the outcome of our appeal.

“The second fundamental issue is time. At the Court of Appeal, the petitioner informed the court that the petition will last till November 11, but the court decided to hear the petition before them.

“The petition has now lapsed. It is now to see if this court has the jurisdiction to continue to hear the matter. In Kebbi State, the same issue arose and the tribunal struck out the matter.

“The tribunal there said the 180 days was inclusive of the period the appeal was taken,” Ngige contended.

Opposing Ngige’s submissions; however, counsel to Akunyili, Mr. Theophine Oguji, argued that Ngige never asked for the consolidation of the appeals and that making reference to them was “neither here nor there.”

“The order of the Court of Appeal is that the petition should be heard on its merit. This is clear in the Electoral Act 2010.

“May I appeal to this court to take all applications together while hearing the petition on merit. By this no prejudice will be done on any party in the matter.

“I pray the court in the interest of justice for a date to hear the matter on merit,” he added.

In its wisdom, the tribunal adjourned till November 22 for commencement of hearing, noting that all applications would be taken while hearing the petition.

It also read out the decision of the Court of Appeal, saying “this tribunal has only one duty which is to implement the order of the Court of Appeal.”