Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), counsel to the petitioner and governorship candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Eyitayo Jegede, last Thursday argued before the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ondo State that Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s was not validly nominated as a candidate.
Ikpeazu based his argument on the ground that Yobe State Governor, Mai Buni who is the chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker Committee, signed sponsorship form for Akeredolu as governorship candidate of the party for the October 10, 2020 gubernatorial election in Ondo State.
The Tribunal sitting held barely 24 hours after Governor Akeredolu and his deputy, Lucky Orimisan Aiyedatiwa, were sworn in for a second term in Akure amidst pomp.
Dr. Ikpeazu prayed the tribunal to grant the reliefs sought by Jegede, which emphasised that Akeredolu and his deputy, Aiyedatiwa, were not validly nominated by APC for the gubernatorial election.
While addressing the three-man tribunal, Ikpeazu argued: “If the election was to take place in Yobe State, would he, Mai Buni, sign his own sponsorship form?”
But the APC’s counsel, Lateef Fagbemi, prayed the tribunal to dismiss Jegede’s petition on grounds that he (Jegede) admitted on paragraph 12 of his petition the sponsorship of third and first respondents.
Fagbemi argued that the petitioner failed to prove that they were not validly nominated, adding that the petitioner’s positions were inconsistent and forbidden by the law.
He prayed the tribunal to dismiss the petition because it was not properly filed, saying the tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to interprete section 183 of the constitution on which the petitioner hinged his prayers.
But Jegede’s attorney told the tribunal that the petitions were explicit and properly instituted, arguing that the petition rested on Section 138 (1) of the Electoral Act, which unambiguously stated that the constitution only has the power to interpret qualification.
“No sponsorship is valid if it contravenes section 177C of the constitution. The case brought before the tribunal is challenging the inability of the second respondent to apply section 177C of the Nigeria constitution in sponsoring the third and fourth respondents.”
While the chairman of the three-man tribunal, Justice Umar Abuba, adopted the final written addresses of all the parties and praised them for the professionalism displayed during the hearing.
Justice Abubakar reserved the judgment to a date he said would later be communicated to all parties in April this year.
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