By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Abuja losses
The Supreme Court, Friday, dismissed an interlocutory appeal that was filed against Governor Olusegun Mimiko by the gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the last governorship election in the state, Chief Olusola Oke.
In a judgement it delivered yesterday, the apex court, maintained that the appeal lacked merit, even as it upheld the earlier decision of both the election petition tribunal that sat in the state as well as that of the Court of Appeal, Akure.
Oke had challenged the outcome of the election, which returned the Labour Party candidate, Mimiko, at the election tribunal.
However, following the refusal of the tribunal to allow him to file additional evidence after all the parties had already concluded their pleadings, he went on appeal.
In his motion dated January 16, 2013, Oke, argued that the evidence which were just released to him by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), were not in his custody when he filed the petition. Besides, he contended that the evidence would enable the tribunal reach a fair and just decision in the case.
Nevertheless, in a ruling it delivered on February 4, the tribunal refused the motion on the ground that it sought to amend the substantive petition and introduce fresh facts.
The Court of Appeal, Akure, to which Oke later appealed, upheld the decision of the tribunal, and noted that “any amendment to the petition would, in the circumstance, be substantial as to over-reach the respondent.”
Dissatisfied with the verdicts, Oke appealed to the Supreme Court.
Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, in the lead judgment yesterday, held that Oke’s motion offended the provision of Paragraph 14(2)(a) and (b) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2010.
He held the provision prohibits an election tribunal from allowing any form of amendment after the expiration of the period within which to present an election petition.
“This is irrespective of the mode the petitioners/applicants approached the court: whether for extension of time to do an act or for an amendment to the petition. The refusal of the application by the two courts (tribunal and Appeal Court) is justified. “Perhaps the only thing I may add is that the application placed before the tribunal was, an after-thought,” he said.