The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its gubernatorial candidate in the governorship election in Delta State, Olorogun Otega Emerhor, of stalling trial in the election petition they filed challenging the victory of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa at the April 2015 polls.
At the resumed hearing of the trial of the Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba, Friday, counsel to APC and O’tega, Chief Thomson Okpoko (SAN) had moved a motion praying the court for adjournment to enable it get certified copies of his petition documents from INEC.
He had argued that most of the documentations were not properly certified as stipulated by the Supreme Court, adding that, the true and proper certification would be done by INEC administrative secretary.
But INEC counsel Chief Danien Dodo (SAN) raised an objection , saying that APC and O’tega’s in ability to secure a genuine certification was an act of negligence as they have all the opportunity to do so before approaching the tribunal.
He prayed the court not to grant APC another adjournment as that would amount to stalling the trial noting that ample time have been lost since the tribunal commenced sitting.
He argued Further that, the trial can go on, and that APC and Otega can submit whatever document in their position whether certified or not, as the tribunal would give them the opportunity of sending in their documents on or before the end of the trial
He also averred that INEC can avail them the opportunity of using its documents to continue with the trial as both parties will be relying on the same paper to present to the tribunal.
Arguing in the same vein, counsel to PDP, Timothy Kehinde (SAN) urged the tribunal not to grant APC the adjournment saying that, as doing so will mean overreaching the petitioner and thus delay the proceedings.
He pointed out that “the documents were certified and giving to the petitioners in February 15, while we responded, we submit that, it will be an act of bad faith for the petitioners if they just discovered the imperfection in their certification, it is trite law, public documents that has not been certified can be put in after which it can be certified.
He lamented the incessant request for adjournment from the petitioners adding that , the tribunal had already granted such request on 25, 26, 27, and 28 of August 2015, adding that any further request for adjournment for the purpose of certification of documents would amount to injustice on the part of the respondents and the general public.
Dr. Alex Izyion, (SAN), counsel to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, in his submission prayed the court to dismissed the motion saying that the petitions issue jeneris as the tribunal has little or no time left, adding that section 46 of the Electoral Act limits the request being sought.
Chairman of the three-man panel tribunal , Justice Nasiru Gunmi in his ruling said it has become necessary to grant the petitioners time to regularizes their document as that will ensure that the parties are giving fair hearing, he therefore adjourned the matter to 4th September, 2015 for continuation of trial.