The Kogi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, on Monday, commenced sitting in Lokoja, the state capital, and granted leave for the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election, Governor Idris Wada, to inspect the electoral materials used in the conduct of the governorship election in the state.
The three-member tribunal panel, headed by Justice Halima Mohammed, granted the ex-parte motion following an application by counsel to the PDP’s candidate, Chief Chris Uche (SAN).
Supported by Justice Patricia Ajoku and Justice Ogbogo Ejembi, the tribunal chairman also issued an order that all the respondents in the petition be served the tribunal’s order for them to be present during the inspection at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Lokoja.
Uche, who is leading two other Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) and about 10 other legal practitioners for the PDP, had filed the application on January 9 seeking an order of the tribunal to inspect materials used in the conduct of the governorship election in the custody of INEC.
Uche said the motion supported by a 17-paragraph affidavit and deposed to by one S.M. John-Mark was in line with section 151 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
The tribunal also granted six ex-parte motions for substituted service of petitions and other court processes on the Kogi State governor-elect, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, who is a respondent in all the petitions.
In their separate motions seeking the leave of the tribunal, Uche of PDP, Jibrin Okwutepa (SAN) APC; Reuben Egwaba, Labour Party (LP) and I.K. Idota of Progressive Peoples’ Alliance (PPA) sought an order of the tribunal for substituted service on the governor-elect.
Besides, the African Democratic Congress (ADC) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) lawyers also sought the tribunal’s order to serve the petitions and other court processes at Bello’s last known address, the APC secretariat or the notice board of the tribunal.
The motions were supported by affidavits that alleged that all attempts by the bailiff of the tribunal to serve the respondent failed.
Uche, in a welcome address on behalf of the Bar, said the cases in the state were ‘narrow and novel,’ urging the tribunal to be conscious of time in expeditious determination of the petitions.
Uche said that the world was waiting for the judiciary to apply its wisdom to save the country out of the political logjam, saying that the scenario was new and never contemplated in the nation’s democratic experiment.
The petition filed by Wada has the All Progressives Congress (APC), INEC and Bello as respondents.
The tribunal has, however, adjourned further sitting till January 21.