.. adjourns hearing to June 13
By Chinedu Adonu
The Enugu State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Enugu has adjourned its pre-hearing session on Enugu State governor, Peter Mbah’s NYSC certificate forgery and over voting during the Governorship election in Nkanu East LGA to June 13 for continuation.
The tribunal refused the application by lawyers to People’s Democratic Party, PDP and Dr. Peter Mbah, to strike out the petition filed by the Labour Party and its Gubernatorial Candidate, Hon. Chijioke Edeoga, bordering on the alleged NYSC discharged certificate forgery by Peter Mbah.
The Tribunal also refused another application moved by PDP and Peter Mbah’s lawyers to strike out Edeoga’s petition bordering on over-voting in Nkanu East Local Government Area during the March 18 Governorship Election in the State.
The chairman of the tribunal,Justice K. M Akano announced the adjournment at the end of Wednesday sitting.
The Counsel to Peter Mbah and the PDP had on June 6, 2023 asked the Tribunal to strike out the petition filed by Edeoga and the Labour Party, against alleged forgery of NYSC Discharge Certificate by Peter Mbah as well as that there was over-voting at Nkanu East Local Government Area during the Governorship election.
Akano however said it would reserve ruling on the two motions till the day of final judgement.
The Tribunal however gave Peter Mbah and the PDP three days to reply to all applications made by the Petitioners, and adjourned the case to June 13, 2023, when the pre-hearing would have been concluded.
Responding to the ruling, the petitioner’s counsel, Mr S. T. Hon, said that in spite of the ruling, the court should not go back and start pre hearing again.
Hon explained that pre-hearing had already commenced on June 2, because they had exchanged pre-hearing information among themselves.
The counsel prayed the court to enforce the mandatory provision of paragraph 18(9) of the Electoral Act.
“You are enjoined to enforce the mandatory provision of paragraph 18(9) of the Electoral Act. There was a pre-hearing notice issued on May 23 on the petitioners. For the fact that certain motions and processes were moved doesn’t mean that pre-hearing has not started,” he said.
Counsel to the PDP, Mr Paul Onyia, said that the pre-hearing had not commenced, adding that the court had given them three days to file their plea. He said that it was expected that a date would be specifically given for the commencement of pre-hearing.
Mr Anthony Ani (SAN), Counsel to the governor, Mr Mba, said that in the ruling, the 2nd respondent had three days to file for further pleading, adding that pre-hearing would commence on the close of the pleading.