AKWA IBOM TRIBUNAL: PDP IN DISARRAY, AS PARTY’S DEFENSE FALTERS

AKWA IBOM TRIBUNAL: PDP IN DISARRAY, AS PARTY'S DEFENSE FALTERS

It emerged at the beginning of the Tribunal that the PDP could not continue with their defense because staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was unable to bring the remaining bag of Incident Forms to the tribunal as promised yesterday.

For the third day in a row, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Friday, September 11, 2015 failed to proceed with their defense at the Akwa Ibom State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, despite the assurances that the Tribunal the previous day by their legal counsel Mr. Tayo Oyetibo, that they will close their case on Friday.

It emerged at the beginning of the Tribunal that the PDP could not continue with their defense because staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was unable to bring the remaining bag of Incident Forms to the tribunal as promised yesterday.

Mr. Adekunle Oyesanya, the council to the PDP, then pleaded with the unimpressed Tribunal to adjourn hearing in the case to Monday, September 14, 2015 to enable them to put their house in order. Mr. Paul Usoro, the counsel to the 1st Respondent of the petition, informed the Tribunal that he has no objection to the application and assured the Tribunal that the Respondents will not exceed the 14 days period allotted to them for defense.

On his part, Mr. Tobechukwu Nweke, the counsel to the 3rd and 4th Respondents, INEC and the Resident Electoral Commissioner Akwa Ibom State, apologized to the Tribunal for the inability of the INEC representative to be in court with the remaining one bag of the Incident Forms. He told the Tribunal that the bag, which was kept at the INEC warehouse, is yet to be located and that a search for it was ongoing.

Responding, the counsel to the Petitioners, Mr. Solomon Umoh, expressed his disappointment with the way the time of the Tribunal was being wasted. He wondered why the 2nd Respondent should even ask for an adjournment because a subpoenaed witness has not been able to produce a document when they still have 19 remaining witnesses. He however said that it was not his business if they have decided to abandon their remaining witnesses, as it is their case.

Mr. Umoh finally submitted that though he was not opposing the application for adjournment, INEC should be ready to open their defense on Monday by bringing their witnesses to court should the 2nd Respondent fail to continue with their defense. In his reply, the counsel to INEC told the Tribunal that he could not guarantee that they will open their case on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Respondents have so far spent 7 out of the 14 days period allotted to them for defense. Ruling on the application for adjournment, the Chairman of the Tribunal stated that there would be no extension of time for defense. He then adjourned the matter to Monday, September 14, 2015 for definite hearing.

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