Tribunal strikes out petition against Mark for being statute barred

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Makurdi  –   National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Makurdi on Thursday struck out petition filed by Mr Daniel Onjeh against Sen. election for being statute barred.

In her ruling, Chinyere Anulude, who read ruling, said that due to sui generis nature of election matters, day of the election shall not be excluded.
According to Anulude, from date of filing petition, it is crystal clear that the petition is manifestly filed out of time by one day.
She pointed out that Section 285(5) of the 1999 Constitution was settled by the Supreme in Okechukwu vs INEC and the lower tribunal was bound by it.
The tribunal, therefore, held that the petition was defective and statute barred.
The (INEC) had declared Mark of the Peoples Democratic Party as winner of the Benue South Senatorial rerun election a margin of barely more than 12,000 votes.
Dissatisfied the result, Onjeh of APC approached the tribunal, insisting that “the purported margin of that led to the declaration of Mark as winner of the was far less than the number of cancelled and rejected votes, which were over 29,000 votes’’.
Onjeh said that evidence on the face of the Certified True Copy of result declaration sheets obtained from INEC showed observed irregularities and non-compliance Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
He, therefore, asked the tribunal to declare him the winner of the instead of Mark.
Joined in the petition were INEC and .
Before the commencement of hearing, however, Mr Kenneth Ikonne, Counsel to Mark, filed an exparte motion asking the tribunal to strike out the petition.
Ikonne said that the petition was defective because the petitioner filed the petition out of time.
He argued that the petitioner ought to have filed within 21-days of the date of the declaration of results by INEC but failed to comply.
“The provides that the date of the event should be included and not excluded from the happening of event,’’ Ikonne said.
He pointed out that the tribunal had jurisdiction over an incompetent case, and the tribunal to grant his application by striking out the petition.
Counsel to Chris Alechenu and Counsel to INEC Johnson Usman aligned themselves with the submission of Ikonne, and the tribunal to quash the petition.
However, Mr Tunji Oso, Counsel to Onjeh, asked the tribunal to discountenance the submissions of the respondents.
Oso argued that the had expressly excluded the date of declaration from the 21 days the petitioner had to file his case.
He said the petitioner filed the case 21-days after the date of declaration which was still within time according to Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution.
In an interview, Oso said that the ruling was not just an injustice to only the petitioner but also to the spirit of the constitution.
He insisted that they would go on appeal.(NAN)