The State and National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Enugu on Monday dismissed two petitions by the All Progressive Congress (APC) for filing the petition out of time.
The tribunal also dismissed another petition by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) against the People Democratic Party (PDP) for the same reason.
The APC candidate, Dr Ben Nwoye, was challenging the declaration of the PDP candidate, Mr Gilbert Nnaji, as the winner of the Enugu East senatorial seat by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Nwoye had requested the tribunal to nullify the March 28 Enugu East senatorial election as it was marred by irregularities and electoral offences.
The counsel to the respondent, Mr Tochukwu Odoh, had told the tribunal that the petitioner‘s application for pre-hearing was filed out of time and cannot be extended.
Odo argued that the petitioner’s notice was filed out of time and requested the tribunal to dismiss the petition since it had no jurisdiction to entertain such.
Meanwhile, the petitioner’s counsel, Mr A.O. Giwa, had argued that the tribunal should discountenance the position of the respondent as the law allowed for pleading when accompanied with affidavit.
Ruling, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Michael Edem, held that the joint replies by the petitioner were filed out of time and as such was incompetent.
Edem said that the petitioner’s argument did not hold water and failed to comply with the Electoral Act, 2010 as amended.
He dismissed the petition and awarded the cost of N20,000 in favor of the respondent.
In another ruling, the tribunal struck out a petition by Mr William Ezeugwu of APGA against the candidate of the PDP, Mr Chukwuka Utazi.
Ezeugwu was challenging the emergence of Utazi as the winner of the Enugu North senatorial seat in the March 28 senatorial election by INEC.
In his petition, he alleged that there were irregularities by the PDP candidate and his party, adding that the respondent was not properly nominated by his party and was not qualified to contest the election.
The counsel to the respondent, Mrs Justina Offiah, argued that the petition itself was not signed by a legal practitioner and the person who signed it failed to state the capacity in which he signed.
She argued that the petitioner was not a member of the PDP and lacked the `locus standi’ to question the nomination and sponsorship of the respondent.
“No one can come through the back door to challenge the domestic affair of another party,” she said.
Offiah told the tribunal that the petition was wrongly headed as it was addressed to the National Assembly and Legislative House Petition Tribunal and questioned the jurisdiction of the tribunal to entertain the petition meant for another tribunal.
Justice Edem, in his ruling held that it lacked jurisdiction to entertain a petition meant for another tribunal, adding that the petitioner was not a member of the PDP and lacked the power to question the nomination.
“The petitioner failed to include the list of witnesses and documents relied on in his petition and there was no allegation of electoral offences,’’ he said.
He struck out the petition and awarded N20,000 cost in favor of the respondent.
Reacting to the judgment, Ezeugwu said he would contest the decision of the tribunal at the appeal court.
Meanwhile, a petition by the candidate of the APC, Mr Ekene Nwankwo, against the candidate of the PDP, Mr Dennis Amadi, as the winner of Udi/Ezeagu Federal Constituency in the March 28 election was also dismissed.
The tribunal held that the petitioner filed his petition out of time and that it was incompetent before it and awarded a cost of N20,000 in favor of the respondent