27th September, 2012
The petition filed at the Edo Governorship Election Petition Tribunal by Maj. Gen. Charles Airhiavbere, candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenging the academic qualification of Governor Adams Oshiomhole suffered serious set back this morning as the Tribunal declined adjudicating on the issue on basis of lack of jurisdiction.
The PDP governorship candidate in the last July 14 election, had challenged the academic qualification of Adams Oshiomhole as well as alleged corrupt practices during the election before the Tribunal.
Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Suleman Ambrusa said the issue was a pre- election matter, adding that Petitioner embarked on a wild goose chase by approaching the court instead of the Federal High Court.
Justice Ambrusa however added that the “Tribunal has jurisdiction to entertain the petition on the grounds of non compliance with the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.”
“The Petitioner would have contested the non qualification of the respondent in the regular court before the conduct of the election. The Electoral Act 2010 as amended mandated parties in an election to challenging alleged false documents of candidate before the election.”
Ruling on the issue of joinder of Resident Electoral Commissioner and the Returning Officer in the suit, the Tribunal also ruled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officers were parties to the election, and as such they must be joined in the petition.
Counsel to the Petitioner, Efe Akpofure (SAN), in his reaction, said he would consult with his client on the next line of action on the issue of academic qualification of the governor. He however expressed optimism that with the issue of corrupt practices, the petitioner would win the case.
Omoruyi Omonuwa (SAN), a member of Oshiomhole’s legal team, expressed satisfaction with the ruling.
“With this ruling, as well as the striking out of majority of the paragraphs the petition is more or less dead on arrival,” he said, adding that the allegation of corrupt practices which is the only issue left in the petition cannot give the petitioner the expected victory.