By: Valentine Adese (JP),
Hon. Jonathan Dabo and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have told Hon. Haruna Maitala and the All Progressives Congress (APC), that its case before the National and States Houses of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in petition EPT/PL/NA/HR/05/2019 is that, the Election in Tudunwada/Kabong Ward, was validly, peacefully and conclusively held in all the 65 polling units of Tudunwada/Kabong Ward of Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency on 23rd February, 2019.
The Petitioners stated this in their Final Written Address and Reply dated the 24th of August, 2019, to Maitala Haruna’s (2nd Respondent) Final Written Address.
The Petitioners, emphasized that, the votes scored by the Petitioners in the sum of 31,470 and the votes scored by the 2nd and 3rd (Hon. Maitala and the APC) Respondents in the sum of 3,816 in Tudun Wada/Kabong Ward during the 23rd February, 2019 election were unlawfully cancelled by the 1st Respondent (INEC).
Adding that, it was, “Thereafter that the 1st Respondent (INEC) scheduled a re-run election whereupon, the 2nd and 3rd Respondents were declared winner of the election. It is the cancellation of the result from Tudunwada/Kabong Ward, the re-run election and subsequent declaration, which the Petitioners herein pray the Tribunal to nullify, for being unlawful”.
While urging the Tribunal to grant all the reliefs sought by the Petitioners in the petition, S. Oyawole (Esq), Counsel to Hon. Dabo and the PDP in his adumbration said, “The Reply of the 3rd Respondent (APC) goes outside the bounds of a reply, going by the provisions of paragraphs 13 of the Electoral Act. They are only entitled to reply on points of Law and not these excesses.
“We urge the Tribunal to recomb the process and sift. We urge the Tribunal to discountenance the reply.
“The Petitioners’ case is that, there was a concluded election and it was at the point of collation that the result was cancelled by a man, who has no such powers.
“The Respondents have argued that the result was cancelled because, they could not sight forms EC8A series. Yet, they could not cite any Law to show that the person who cancelled the result has power to cancel the result. The duplicates of EC8A series are like the originals. INEC knows why they are keeping the originals!
“Their witnesses have clearly told the Tribunal that the election took place and results were collated, but this is coming too late.
“The Tribunal should grant the reliefs and return the Petitioners.
“From the hearings, all the witnesses have said they have no business with the election of 9th March, which is the rerun. So, the issue of Estoppel does not arise.
“I urge the Tribunal to grant the reliefs sought!”
You would recall that the Petitioners in their petition, dated 15th March, 2019, and filed on same date, have prayed the Honourable Tribunal for 12 reliefs contained at pages 43 to 45.
In response to the Petition, the 1st Respondent (INEC) filed its Reply to the Petition dated 8th April, 2019 and filed on same date. However, pursuant to the Petitioners’ Application, dated and filed on 8th May, 2019, the 1st Respondent’s Reply to the Petition, which was filed out of time was struck out by the Ruling of the Tribunal, delivered on 5th July, 2019, for being incompetent.
The 2nd Respondent’s Reply to the Petition dated 8th April, 2019, was filed on 9th April, 2019, while the 3rd Respondent’s Reply, dated 9th April, 2019, was filed on same date. The Petitioners filed Replies to the respective Respondents’ Replies. The Petitioners’Reply to the 2nd Respondent’s Reply is dated and filed on 15th April, 2019. While the Petitioners’ Reply to the 3rd Respondent’s Reply is dated 25th April, 2019, but filed on 27th April, 2019.
The Petitioners called 58 witnesses, PW1 to PW58 and tendered documents marked as Exhibits P1 to P130 and closed their case on 7th August, 2019.
The 1st Respondent (INEC) did not call any witness and did not tender any exhibit, while the 2nd Respondent (Maitala) called 1 witness and tendered documents marked as, Exhibits R1 to R73. Also, the 3rd Respondent (APC) called 3 witnesses but did not tender any exhibit.
Earlier, while adopting his Final Written Address, dated and filed on 1st August, 2019, Nantuk Dashuwar (Esq), Counsel to the 2nd Respondent (Hon. Maitala) urged the Tribunal to dismiss the petition entirely.
He said, “The entirety of the petition is that, in Tudunwada/Kabong Ward, election held and the results collated. It was discovered at the Local Government Collation Center that, INEC Form EC8A series were not found and the election was cancelled and the 1st Respondent conducted a fresh election and the Petitioners participated.
“Till this day, nobody has accounted for the missing Form EC8A series. After participating in the rerun, can they now be allowed to be complaining? They are estopped!
“The Petitioners have cited several authorities to show that, election can only be cancelled at the units, but in those cases, the originals of forms EC8A series were made available to the Tribunal.
“The 2nd Respondent had challenged the admissibility of the documents tendered from the bar and since, what they have tendered are Certified True Copies (CTCs) of forms, these were supposed to be tendered through witnesses”.