The Peoples Democratic Party has asked the Akwa Ibom State Elections Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Abuja to nullify its earlier proceedings on the petition challenging the election of former Akwa Ibom State governor, Godswill Akpabio, as the Senator representing Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District in the 8th Senate.
Akpabio has since been appointed the Minority Leader in the Senate.
But the petition challenging his election was filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the March 28, 2015 National Assembly elections, Chief Inibehe Okori.
The motion by the PDP asking for the nullification of the tribunal’s proceedings and the dismissal of the petition was filed after the petitioners had called many witnesses in proving their case.
PDP, which is the third respondent to the petition, predicated its fresh motion on the grounds that the petitioners failed to properly apply for the commencement of the pre-hearing session as required by law, before going into the hearing of the petition.
The Justice Goddy Anunihu-led tribunal has fixed the hearing of the PDP’s motion for August 25.
However, in their response to the motion, the petitioners through their counsel, Amauche Onyedun, said they had validly applied to the Secretary of the Commission and paid for the issuance of the pre-hearing conference notice, Form TF 008.
She contended that the PDP’s motion seeking the dismissal of the petition by the tribunal on the sole ground of invalid issuance of Form TF 008, was insufficient and not contemplated by Paragraph 18(1) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2010.
Onyedum argued that the tribunal in hearing the petition had gone far past the stage of pre-hearing, deep into hearing on the merit where the Petitioners have called several witnesses.
The lawyer added had the pre-hearing session was validly commenced and that by virtue of the steps the PDP had taken so far in the hearing of the petition, its application could not be competently raised by virtue of Paragraph 53((2) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act.