By Abdullahi Faruk Birnin Kebbi
Kebbi State election Petition tribunal sitting in Birnin Kebbi said its can’t extend pre-trial to 14 days prescribed by electoral law to any party because it has already ruled on that since on the 15/5/ 2023 and now a motion can’t be brought from the petitioners led counsel Barrister Yakubu Chinoko Maikyau SAN and also president of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) seeking for extension of pre-trial. Trial most commenced.
This was stated by tribunal chairman Honourable Justice Margret Opara when Y. C Maikyau SAN appeared before the said tribunal panel on a petition filed by the immediate past Kebbi governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu with suit marked number EPT/KB/ SEN/ 02/ 2023 challenging victory of senator Muhammadu Adamu Aliero of Peoples Democratic party (PDP) for Kebbi Central Senatorial District Election.
The tribunal further stated that” now if we extend pre-trial the tribunal will sit down doing nothing and all other lawyers will be bringing motions that they want an extension of pre-trial. So the tribunal can’t reversed it already ruling. This shows unseriousness and indolent from the petitioners.
However, tribunal chairman drawn the attention of Y. C Maikyau SAN, that” the whole world is watching what is happening in all the tribunals across the country, so we can’t allow this kind of unseriousness and indolent attitude to happen here. More so, we left our comfort zones to Kebbi with a view to deliver justice for all the petitions before us and definitely we most deliver judgement to all the petitions within the timeframe, she explained”. So we are going to struck out your application is better you withdraw it. So less commences hearing. We will allow you to tender your documents through the bar when certified. But less progress to commences hearing.
Honourable Justice Margret Opara, said by the tribunal calculation by 15th of October we are to deliver judgement of five sets of petitions filed first and your petition is one of the first batch. So asking for an extension of fourteen days pre-trial can send a very bad signal and it will affect good record put in. ” Tribunal reiterated that we are not going to extend pre-trial we have already ruled on that, chairman tribunal explained”.
In his respond, the president of NBA, explained to the tribunal that as a petitioners we are constraints of documents we sought to tender to form part of the document to proved the petition before the tribunal. He said before now, the tribunal gave petitioners order for inspection of document at the first respondant office that’s INEC”.
The Petitioners concluded inspection of the said documents while pre-trial is ongoing but document are yet to be certified by the first respondant, and we can not present witnesses without the said documents because our witnesses are coming to speak on the document, he lamented”.
He appealed to the tribunal to take note of the constraints the petitioners are into for not releasing the said documents to them by INEC my lord. So we urged tribunal to grant the application.
He further expressed that” My lord we are asking for fourteen days within which we can get our documents certified by INEC because right they are doing photocopying and than certifying. We have finished inspection of this document but we are handicapped for not finishing the certifying of the document my lord, NBA president lamented”.
Adding that” am not insisting that the application most be granted but anything tribunal want me to do, I most abide by it.
Counsel to second respondant, Hussain Zakiriya SAN, also responded , by drawning the attention of the tribunal to the fact that on the 15th May petitioners brought similar application the matter should not proceed to hearing that they want tribunal to extend pre-trial and the tribunal said no. ” We are not going to extend pre-trial, withdraw your application and the tribunal now struck the application out.
He further explained that, tribunal adjourned and set the matter to 31th of May 2023 for hearing of witnesses, today my lord the petitioners refused to bring their witnesses at all but what they did was now to filed another motion for praying for the tribunal to extend pre-trial, in that their motion they want tribunal to set aside that order of 15th May, that tribunal made that” we are not going to extend pre-trial and which tribunal have already refused and ruled on that.
However, the petitioners are now
trying to convince tribunal why extension of pre-trial should be granted. Already tribunal have said no. After all, both petitioners and the respondants agreed to adjourned to 6,7,8 and 9th of June 2023 for petitioners to bring their witnesses and closed the matter on the said 9th June to enable the respondants to open their defence.
Upon this, tribunal adjourned the matter to 6, 7, 8 and 9th June 2023 for hearing by the agreement of both petitioners and the respondants for continuation of hearing.