By Uzoh Ugwueze, Enugu
The National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Enugu, has dismissed the suit filed by Prince Lawrence Eze against the election of Senator Chimaroke Nnamani representing Enugu East Senatorial Zone.
Eze of the All Progressives Congress, APC, filed the suit against Nnamani, his party, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Also dismissed by the same tribunal was the petition filed by Mr. Nelson Maduka Arum of the APC against the election of Hon. Offor Chukwuegbo of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, as the member representing Enugu North/South Federal Constituency.
Arum had told the tribunal to use its discretion in deciding the fate of his petition.
Joined as second and third respondents in the petition are the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, respectively. On the suit against Nnamani, the tribunal’s ruling was following the petitioner’s decision to discontinue the matter.
At the resumed hearing of the case, with Petition No: EPT/EN/NA/5/2019, Eze, through his counsel, U.O Sule told the tribunal that he had filed a motion seeking to withdraw the instant petition.
In its ruling, the tribunal held that having taken argument of all the parties, it was clear that all the respondents have filed affidavit against illegal terms of withdrawal.
The chairman of the tribunal, Justice, H.H Kerang, who read the ruling, said the respondents asked court to allow same application, adding that “we are satisfied with the reason stated by the petitioner for withdrawal of the petition. “Consequently, we are satisfied that the petitioner has satisfied the provisions of the law; the application is hereby granted; hence this petition is hereby dismissed.”
Meanwhile, there was a mild drama on Arum’s case, as his counsel, A.P Samson told the tribunal that “this matter is scheduled for hearing of an application for withdrawal pursuant to Paragraph 29 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2010 (As Amended).
“But we are unable to file this application due to the fact that we could not get the petitioner (1st) to sign the verified affidavit. We leave it at the discretion of this court to decide what it does with this petition.”
In a vehement opposition to his submission, counsel to the first respondent, P.M.B. Onyia, that of the second respondent, Tochukwu Odoh, and the third respondent, (INEC), H.I. Okoli, urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition.
According to Onyia, the petitioners, having failed for the third time to make any progress on the matter, “we are urging Your Lordships to do the needful. This is not a matter of discretion; the law already provided what will happen; it is to dismiss this petition; that is the language of Paragraph 46 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2010 (As Amended).
“I urge Your Lordships to dismiss this petition with heavy costs. We are asking for N300,000 (Three hundred thousand naira).”
The INEC, represented by H.I. Okoli toed the same line of submission, describing the action of the petitioners as provocative. He asked for a cost of N100,000 (one hundred thousand naira) against the petitioners.
In its ruling, the tribunal, while agreeing with the entire submissions made by the respondents, reiterated that it was clear that the fate of the petition would be determined by the tribunal.
Chairman of the tribunal, Hon. Justice H.H. Kerang held that “accordingly, this petition, though not with any form of motion for withdrawal, stands withdrawn. Accordingly, it is hereby dismissed.
“The first and the third respondents are entitled to cost; consequently, we award the cost of 50,000 and 30,000 in favour of the first and third respondents, and shall be paid out of the deposit to the tribunal.”
By Uzoh Ugwueze, Enugu