Delta Tribunal: Okowa, PDP’s Motions to Stop INEC Subpoena Dismissed…….Trial to Commence on Tuesday
The Delta State Governorship Elections Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Asaba, on Thursday dismissed motions filed by the three respondents in the petition, challenging subpoena order granted by the tribunal which was served on the Independent National Electoral Commission. The All Progressives Congress APC, state governorship candidate in the April 11 election, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, is challenging the declaration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party as the winner of the April poll.
Emerhor was billed to call in witness by Tuesday, but it was stalled following three fresh motions filed by the counsels to the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the PDP, and INEC just as the trial was to begin. However, the three-man panel tribunal led by Justice Nasiru Gunmi, in its ruling dismissed the motion by Okowa, PDP and INEC for lack of merit. He went further to lambast the respondents for engaging in frivolous tactics meant to delay the trial warning all parties to desist therefrom. Hearing of the case has now been fixed for Tuesday, 25 August 2015, for commencement of the trial.
The tribunal had earlier adjourned till Thursday, August 20, to hear the motions and resumed hearing counsel for the petitioner and the APC, Chief Thompson Okpoko (SAN), had branded counsels for the three respondents as “meddlesome interlopers and rabble rousers”, whose applications were meant to cause confusion and stall the hearing of the petition. Okpoko, citing many judicial authorities averred that both Okowa and PDP have no locus standi to file the fresh applications as the subpoena was served on INEC who conducted the election, and should be able to show evidence that the election was conducted in line with laid down laws. He added that it was only INEC that could apply to set aside the subpoena, but averred that in this petition, the provision of law was not applicable.
Okpoko in his final submission noted that; “these applications have one purpose: It is to stall the hearing of the petition and an attempt to defeat it by delaying the hearing of the petition. The application is borne out of rabble rousing. It is to cause confusion. They are meddlesome interlopers and trying to cry louder than the bereaved. Therefore, I ask the tribunal to do justice by dismissing these fresh applications because they lack merit and it is a fresh attempt to waste the Tribunal’s time and delay the commencement of the trial.”
Okowa’s counsel, Dr Alex Izinyon (SAN), in moving the application, however, urged the tribunal to set aside APC subpoena (Duce Tekum) earlier granted by the tribunal on INEC to appear at the tribunal.
Also, PDP’s counsel, Timothy Kehinde (SAN), aligned with Okowa’s counsel, arguing that the subpoena was an indirect way of asking the tribunal to sit on appeal over an earlier ruling refusing the petitioner’s application for further and better particulars. Kehinde averred that the subpoena was “a surreptitious means to revisit the application to call additional witnesses”. He said the documents of the petition were documents not pleaded or listed in the petition, urging the tribunal to dismiss request. He stated that the subpoena “is misleading and meant to overreach the PDP, who will have no opportunity to respond”.
Counsel for INEC, Damien Dodo (SAN), described the subpoena as a “tactical manoeuvre by the petitioner to bring documents that were not pleaded nor were listed”. The tribunal in Thursday’s ruling, however, disagreed with the respondents.