The Enugu State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal has reserved judgement in the petition by Barr Chijioke Edeoga the governorship candidate of the Labour Party, LP, challenging the election of Governor Peter Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the March 18 governorship election in the State.
Edeoga is challenging the declaration of Mbah by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as the winner of the governorship election in the State.
All the parties adopted their final addresses before the tribunal on Wednesday.
Chairman of the panel, Justice Kudirat Morayo Akano, said the date would be duly communicated to the parties.
Adopting his final address, Edeoga’s counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, asked the tribunal to hold the position of his clients and grant the reliefs sought.
This, he said, was because it had been established beyond any reasonable doubt that Mbah was at the time of the election not constitutionally qualified to contest having presented a forged certificate of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, to INEC.
He said that the first Petitioner’s witness was an authority representing the NYSC, the director in charge of corps certification, and that his evidence proved the matter beyond reasonable doubt that the certificate was not issued by the NYSC.
“All evidence proved that the second respondent (Mbah) did not collect his certificate.
“There is incontrovertible evidence that on July 3, 2003, the second respondent (Mbah) became the Chief of Staff of Enugu State to Chimaroke Nnamani.
“The third defense witness (Udeh), who claimed that he gave letters to him, said he did not know if he got his certificate.
“The evidence of the third Defense witness (DSS) showed that there is no place where it is proven that DSS investigated the process. Exhibit 63 showed that he did not come from the DSS authority; it also showed that the second respondent procured his NYSC certificate illegally,” he said.
He urged the Court to cancel the election in 19 polling units in Udenu Local Government Area due to inaccurate computation and in 14 units in Nkanu East and Igbo-Etiti council areas due to overvoting.
“The court has the power to order a cancellation in those polling units, I pray to the tribunal to uphold justice.
Meanwhile, Edeoga’s counsel had earlier prayed the tribunal to allow him amend a section of his address where he used Rivers in the place in Enugu.
However, adopting his address, counsel to INEC, Mr Abdul Mohammed, urged the tribunal to dismiss Edeoga’s petition with substantial cost.
Mohammed argued that the so-called letter written by the NYSC disclaiming Mbah’s NYSC certificate should not be regarded.
“This document did not meet the threshold of admissibility as no proof of payment of their certification was ever before the court.
“The second petitioner’s witness was not the maker of the document, we therefore submit that having presented substantial evidence in proof of the allegation that NYSC is forged, there is no document for the court to rely on,” he said.
The counsel to the second respondent, Chief Wale Olanikpekun asked the tribunal to dismiss Edeoga’s petitions for lacking in merit and for being a mere academic exercise.
“NYSC is not a qualification for contesting the governorship election.
“They have not presented any proof. The petitioner’s witnesses, who came to testify in court were agents without identities, PW 6,7,9,10,11,12,13,22 and 28 admitted that there was no over voting,” he said.
The counsel for the third respondent, Mr. Alex Izinyon, told the court to dismiss the petition in its entirety as it was a shadow-chasing case.
Izinyon said that the evidence required in the polling units was not agents’ evidence, adding that they derailed from their pleading as there was no evidence of forgery in the certificate before the court.
Earlier, the three respondents opposed the application for correction of the petitioners’ written final address, saying that they had already adopted their own final addresses.
Mohammed opposed the application vehemently, saying that the correction was an amendment to add a further address.
However, counsel to the petitioner, S.T. Hon, urged the tribunal to overrule the three respondents’ submission, adding that the Supreme Court had addressed the issue in the case of INEC against Yusuf, 2020 of the Nigeria Weekly Law Report Part 1714, pages 374 to 399.(C-F).
According to him, the Supreme Court says that amendment includes subtraction, addition, and correction.
Justice Akano said that the ruling on the application for the correction of the petitioner’s final written address would come alongside the judgment.