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INEC says won’t disobey court orders on Presidential Election

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By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA – The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has promised to respect all court orders relating to the ongoing petitions at the Presidential Election Tribunal.

A voter uses a smartphone to photograph his details on a voters’ list displayed at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) central office in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on March 8, 2019. – Nigerian voters will go to the polls on March 9 to elect governors and lawmakers in 29 of the nation’s 36 states two weeks after presidential and national assembly elections in which Buhari was elected for a second term. (Photo by AFP)

INEC National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Information, Barr. Festus Okoye disclosed this in a statement Monday night in Abuja.

He said; “The Independent National Electoral Commission is aware that there are petitions pending before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.

The Commission is also aware that issues have been joined in the said petitions as the petitioners have filed their petitions and the respondents have responded to the petitions. The Commission as one of the respondents in the Petition filed by the PDP and its Presidential Candidate has responded to the said Petition.

“The Commission is aware that very senior lawyers are representing the Petitioners and the respondents in relation to the said petitions.

The Commission is a law-abiding institution and will not argue or canvass in the media, petitions that are sub-judice and where the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal is firmly seized of the issues.

“The Lawyers representing the Petitioners are seized of the state of the law and the course to take if they truly believe that the Commission is in disobedience of the orders of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.
The Commission is a law-abiding institution and will continue to accord the requisite respect to judicial institutions and obey the orders of court”, he said.

Meanwhile, the Media Office of Halims Agoda has said the Court of Appeal has affirmed that former member of the House of representatives, Hon. Agoda is the validly nominated candidate of the All Progressives Congress APC for Ethiope Federal Constituency of Delta state in the recently concluded general elections.

In a unanimous judgement, the Benin division of the court held that the Federal High Court sitting in Asaba was right when it held that Chief Solomon Edojah whose name was forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC as the candidate of the party was not validly nominated.

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In the lead judgement delivered by Justice Moore Asiemo Abraham Adumein dismissed the appeal with a N250,000 cost against the appellant in favour of Agoda.

Edojah had challenged the suit brought before the High Court by Agoda, alleging that the petition was filed out of the stipulated time and therefore status barred, but the suit was dismissed by the lower court as incompetent.

Delivering judgement on the Appeal, Justice Adumein said even though the party primary was conducted on the 5th of October, 2018, the issue for determination before the court and for which time frame for filing a petition before the court occurred on October 18, 2018 when the Agoda was denied his right to participate in the general election by the APC when it submitted the name of Solomon Edojah to INEC as its candidate.

Agoda had told the court that he won the primary election conducted by the party and that even though the results of the primary was submitted to the party, it went ahead to substitute his name despite winning an appeal against the decision of the party.

The judge said “It should be noted that by section 285(9) of the 1999 constitution as amended, it is the date of the occurrence of the event, decision or action complained of in the suit that will determine when the cause of action accrues. In this context, since there is an amorphous variety of circumstances, fact and situations, each case ought to be considered and determined within the peculiarity of its own circumstances.

He also held that the lower court was right for not calling oral evidence to determine the actual winner of the primary as a result of conflicting affidavit and counter affidavit, adding that the statement deposed to by the Independent National Electoral Commission already put the issue to rest.

While agreeing with the lead judgement, Justice Helen Morenikeji Ogunwumiju said; “I share the same view and agree with the reasoning and conclusion that the appeal be dismissed as lacking in merit. I will add a few word.

“The cause of action in a case crystallises when all the aggregates of facts which delineate and constitute the complaints are present. Thus, the cause of action becomes completes so tat the aggrieved parties can begin to maintain his cause of action”.

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