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Lagos poll tribunal commences sitting, grants Agbaje’s request for inspection

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AGBAJE-OK

Agbaje

THE Lagos State National and State Houses of Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal commenced sitting with a warning to lawyers that the tribunal would not tolerate strategies aimed at delaying expeditious hearing and determination of petitions before it.

The Chairman, Justice Sylvanus Oriji on Tuesday ordered lawyers not to delay hearing at the inaugural sitting of the tribunal which has Justices K. Dabo and Kadi Yusuf as members.

He said that election petitions were delicate to handle because they must be heard and determined within 180 days as specified by Section 285 (6) of the 1999 Constitution.

According to him, it was established that any judgment delivered by an Election Tribunal in an election petition after 180 days from the date of filing is a nullity.

He charged the lawyers to give the tribunal the necessary support and co-operation both at the pre-hearing conferences and throughout the hearing of the petitions.

He said, “Without your co-operation, it will be difficult for the tribunal to succeed in its onerous task to conclude all the pending election petitions within 180 days as stipulated by the Constitution.

“In this regard, the tribunal will not tolerate any action or omission (or strategy) aimed at delaying or frustrating the expeditious hearing and determination of the petitions.”

He also urged the lawyers to be guided by the rules of professional conduct for legal practitioners and show respect to the Bench and their colleagues while conducting their matters before the tribunal.

Justice Oriji also admonished the journalists on accurate report on the proceedings urged that they should contact the tribunal’s secretary when in doubt.

He maintained that the tribunal would discharge its responsibilities without fear or favour, adding that its interest to do justice was higher than that of any individual.

Ademola Sadiq who responded on behalf of lawyers assured the tribunal that all the admonitions given by the judge would be strictly adhered to in the interest of justice.

Also, the tribunal granted the prayers of a petitioner, Jimi Agbaje of the People Democratic Party (PDP), for the inspection of all polling documents and the devices used in conducting the election.

Agbaje through his counsel, Clement Onwuenmunor urged the tribunal to order the Independent Electoral Commission, (INEC) to provide Certified True Copies CTCs of all polling documents including printed data in each polling units from the card reader machines.

Onwuenmunor said INEC will be served with the order of the court and once they comply with the order, cross-examination will begin.

The All Progressive Congress (APC), counsel, Sadiq, expressed satisfaction towards the ruling of the tribunal, adding that the ruling is from the point of law.

he presiding tribunal, Justice Muhammad Sirajo however ordered counsel to make use of tribunal authority to request for materials and not by filling exparte motion.


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