Published On: Tue, Jul 11th, 2023

Delta South: Tribunal adjourns for adoption of final addresses in Diden’s Petition Against Onowakpo

JUDICIARY 3

LAGOS JULY 11TH (URHOBOTODAY)-The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba, on Monday adjourned the petition filed by the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for Delta South senatorial district, Michael Diden, to August 4 for adoption of final written addresses.

Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Cathrine Ogunsola, adjourned the matter after the three respondents closed their case with just one witness.

Diden is challenging the declaration of Senator Joel Onowakpo of the All Progressive Congress (APC) as winner of the February 25 election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

This is even as the parties have adopted their final written addresses in the cross petition brought by Senator Onowakpo challenging the eligibility of Diden for the election.

Speaking with newsmen after the adjournment, counsel to the petitioners in the main petition, Ayo Asala (SAN) expressed satisfaction with the court proceedings, even as he expressed optimism that the cases would go in favour of his client.

Asala said the witness of the second respondent in the main petition failed to demonstrate knowledge about with transpired in Warri South, the contentious local government of the disputed election.

He insisted that elections held in Warri South as against the claim by the respondents that there was no election in there area.

“And we have demonstrated that election held in Warri South. We brought the IReV downloaded result from all the polling units, about 80% of them.

“And their witness admitted that it is only the presiding officer that can upload results. So how can you say there was no election when the result was uploaded? So we are very satisfied,” he said.

On the cross petition, Asala said the cross petitioners were only embarking a wild goose chase, saying that the Electoral Act is very clear that it is only the declared winner of an election that can be sued and not the contestant who is chasing a supposedly stolen mandate.

“In any event, what we are even saying is that, the Electoral Act does not allow the person that lost an election that is trying to claim his mandate to be sued on the ground of qualification and non-qualification because the ground was very explicit that you can only challenge the person returned as winner of the election.

“And you cannot expand the scope of the ground of the Act. In the recent Supreme Court judgement in Ikie vs Sheriff, the court was clear about it that you cannot be talking about falsity of a document when there is no evidence to show that you altered that document for a purpose.

“The minimum age is 35, even if you are talking about 1978 or 1963, the man meets up with the constitutional requirement, so there is no motive, there is no intention. And the law says you must prove it beyond reasonable doubt,” he said.

Asala explained that the certificate forgery allegation contained in the cross petition was the handwork of mischief maker who apparently found their way to alter the certificate.

“The cross petition where they are alleging that we were not qualified to contest the election and just because somebody from nowhere, after submitting the original documents of WAEC certificate, obviously some people now found a way of altering the same original certificate and kept it in his file.

“And we brought other documentary evidence so that the same document was submitted to INEC through PDP, and we subpoened PDP and they brought the same copy in their record which did not contain the document they are trying to say was altered.

“And it is against human reasoning for you to have an original document which you have submitted in the same document you now submit an altered version of it,” he added.

Sun News Online

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