Monday, June 06, 2011

Jonathan, Sambo Ask Tribunal to Dismiss CPC's Petition on Nigerian Presidential Polls

Jonathan, Sambo ask tribunal to dismiss CPC’s petition on presidential polls

Monday, 06 June 2011 00:00
From Lemmy Ughegbe, Abuja
Nigerian Guardian

PRESIDENT Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo have described the petition filed at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal by the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), challenging their victory at the April 16, 2011 polls as incompetent and without substance.

In a joint reply to CPC’s petition filed on their behalf by a team of lawyers including Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), O.C.J. Okocha (SAN) and Dr. Alex Aigbe Izinyon (SAN), Jonathan and Sambo noted that the allegations contained therein (petition) are baseless, frivolous, vague and unsubstantiated, submitting that the conduct of forensic test on election materials will help them prove that they won the presidential poll fair and square.

The duo contended that all CPC sought to achieve with its petition is to scandalise them with such “frivolous” allegations contained therein and not supported in law and fact.

Other Senior Advocates in the President’s team are Damian Dodo, Dabian Ajogwu, Ighodalo Imadegbelo, Chief Assam Assam, O.A. Omonuwa, Jude Nnodum and Paul Erokoro.

Meanwhile, Jonathan’s legal team has told the tribunal it would call 102 witnesses, an expert in forensic analysis, another expert in fingerprint, a biometric analyst and a statistician to prove that the presidential election was conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act.

However, there may be no room to go into that tortuous legal hurdle if the preliminary objection filed by Jonathan and Sambo contesting the competence of CPC’s petition is upheld by the tribunal at this stage as it will lead to the outright dismissal of the petition.

In the duo’s objection, they said the petition is incompetent on the ground that it was filed on a Sunday (non-working day) and General Muhammadu Buhari and Pastor Tunde Bakare, beneficiaries of the CPC’s petition, were not named as parties therein.

Specifically, the joint reply submitted: “The court to dismiss the petition based on the following grounds:

That the petition was founded on a nullity having been filed on Sunday, the 8th day of May, 2011. They said that Sunday was a non-working day and that the registry of the court, under the applicable rules did not open on a Sunday for the transaction of any business.

That the petition was not properly constituted because General Muhammadu Buhari and Pastor Tunde Bakare for whose benefit the petition was filed were not made parties to the petition.

“The prayers/reliefs of the Petitioner cannot be granted in the absence of Buhari and Bakare,” they added.

They also said that the petition was a gross abuse of the processes of the court and that it dealt with hypothetical and academic issues which could not be determined by the court.

The duo contended that the tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the petition because some of the grounds relied upon by the petitioner were pre-election matters which could not be determined by an election tribunal.

Should the court not ready to dismiss the petition based on the preliminary objection, Jonathan and Sambo filed a joint reply where they gave a plethora of reasons why the petition should be dismissed.

In the said reply, they submitted that CPC did not have adequate coverage of the country to enable it win the presidential poll.

Specifically, they submitted that Buhari and Bakare did not campaign through the length and breadth of Nigeria for the presidential election whereas they (Jonathan and Sambo) repeatedly campaigned throughout the federation and paid repeated visits to some states.

They rejected claims by CPC that ballot papers were snatched in Bayelsa, Akwa-Ibom and Cross River state by thugs loyal to the Peoples Democratic Party.

They said: “In addition, Respondents (Jonathan and Sambo) shall found and rely on expert opinions reduced into writing, based on bio-metric data and statistics to show that the election won by them was free and fair.”

They also denied the allegation that they influenced voters by giving out money, bags of rice, salt, sugar, soap and other items.

They faulted the bio-metric report and expert documents pleaded by CPC in its petition saying these were not based on any factual situation, but were manufactured by CPC after it had filed its petition.

They urged the court to note that the petitioner had failed to produce better and further particular to support the petition.

Therefore, they prayed the tribunal to forbid CPC from leading evidence to substantiate its allegations of rigging since it had failed to furnish them with details of the allegations.

They pleaded copious newspapers to show that CPC was not on ground as a political party having been formed some months before the presidential election.

The party had prayed the tribunal to void Jonathan and Sambo’s victory at the polls on the grounds of substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010.

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