7th July, 2011
The decision of the Action Congress of Nigeria candidate for Benue South Senatorial District , Gen. Lawrence Onoja(retd) to challenge the election of the Senate President, David Mark suffered a temporary setback at theÂ Â National/State House of Assembly Election Tribunal sitting in Makurdi as the tribunal Chairman, Justice Anslem Nwigwe Â struck out the pre-trial notice filed by Onojaâ€™s Â counsel.
The judge, who described Â it as â€˜prematureâ€™, gave the ruling yesterday.
He urged the petitionerâ€™s counsel Barr. Ocha Ulegede to file all his processes in accordance with the rules of the tribunal.Â
While withdrawing his application for pre-trial notice Barr. Ulegede admitted that he mistakenly applied for pre-trial, adding that it was indeed premature.Â
He also complained that counsel to the 1st and 2nd respondents served their replies to him late and so he had been unable to reply to them.
Â Meanwhile , counsel to the Senate President, Â Barr. Kenneth Ikonne in an interview with news men after the tribunal sitting Â dismissed Ulegedeâ€™s claim as â€˜untrueâ€™, insisting that records at the tribunal indicate that the petitionerâ€™s counsel received their reply early, accusing him of trying to buy time.Â
He further wondered why the petitioner would file an incompetent notice when all pleas have not been taken.Â
â€œPleas are supposed to close before notice for pre-trial is filed. But in this case, the petitionerâ€™s counsel brought notice for pre-trial prematurely and that is why the tribunal struck it out,â€ Ikonne said.Â
It was also observed that despite an order by the tribunal that the 2nd respondentâ€™s reply to petition be served on the 3rd respondent, the bailiff adamantly refused to adhere to the order and only hurriedly did so inside the court to the disappointment of the tribunal chairman.
By Ubong George/Makurdi