The Justice Nasiru Gumi led Delta State Governorship Elections Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Asaba Delta State, has struck out the application filed by Labour Party (LP) governorship aspirant, Chief Great Ogboru, following the decision of his lead Counsel to withdraw an ex-parte application, seeking to inspect sensitive materials used for the April 11 Delta State Governorship elections.
This development was part of the latest rulings delivered by Justice Gumi, when the Tribunal resumed sitting on Friday, July 10, 2015, after an application on the same matter, brought before the Tribunal on Thursday, the day before, had attracted heated debate by all the parties involved.
Ogboru, whose lead counsel, Chief Dele Adesina, SAN, represented by Mr. Robert Emukpoeruo, had filed an earlier motion urging the Tribunal to compel Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make available and grant him permission to inspect materials used for the April governorship election in the state, had however, amended the application overnight and asked the tribunal to bar respondents in his petition (PDP and INEC) from participating in the inspection, arguing that allowing the other parties to be present will not only frustrate the inspection but will delay and impede the process of the trial proper.
However, Mr. Ken Mozea, representing lead counsel to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Dr. Alex Izyion (SAN), took exception to a number of points and claims contained in the re-presented ex-parte application.
Mozea said, “We are not opposed to the motion to inspect the electoral materials but we want to be joined during the inspection, a position we already made clear when the original application was brought befor your Lordships. Today’s application, which came by way of an ex-parte motion, is not the same motion of yesterday, which is already before this Court. The reliefs sought in this motion on notice have increased, and if we are not joined in the inspection, we will oppose it and give reasons why we need time to respond to this application.”
Speaking further, Mozea said that the ex-parte application was received very late on the night of Thursday July 9, 2015 and the fact that the content of the earlier motion had been altered considerably, meant that they would need time to file their response and reaction to the added reliefs.
According to Mozea, “I say so because yesterday (Thursday) when there was an indication that they had an ex-parte motion, we had indicated we will not oppose, but we want joint inspection, and they indicated they will withdraw reliefs three and four, but today (Friday) they went back and filed a motion with completely different reliefs. Not only have they increased the reliefs sought, they have expressly indicated that instead of joint inspection, they are asking for liberty [for us] to attend if we so desire.”
Mozea further noted that the deponent to Ogboru’s motion had clearly stated that in the affidavit that as an experienced Layer in such matters he has the experience and can authoritatively state that joint participation will frustrate the inspection.
His words: “My lord, I can also categorically state that I am experienced and my experience spanning over three decades have exposed me to the danger of allowing one party to have unrestricted access to sensitive materials, so we want time to respond to this assertion so that we can join issues.”
Also making his submission in the same vein, Counsel to INEC, Chief Kehinde, SAN, not only took exception to the seeming vexatious claim by the deponent of Ogboru’s petition, but also informed the Court that he intended to bring an application before the Tribunal compelling the deponent to be brought into the witness box to test and substantiate the validity of his claim, suggesting that he had superior knowledge, as a result of his stated experience, on joint inspections of election materials.
At this point, Ogboru’s counsel of the day by Mr. Robert Emukpoeruo, quickly informed the tribunal of his intention to withdraw the petition, saying, “I plead your lordship’s indulgence to withdraw this application, as it seems that the respondent are intent on frustrating every move we make to ensure a speedy process.”
The Tribunal Chairman, Justice Nasiru Gumi, was thus compelled to strike out the application, since according to him, the party that submitted the ex-parte application had also voluntarily decided to withdraw it.
Prior to this ruling Justice Gumi, while granting an extension of time for all applications to be perfected, had earlier chided Counsel to APC and Olorogun O’rtega Emerhor, Mr. Thomson Opkoko (SAN), to avoid bringing frivolous petitions and to follow due process by filing a motion on notice to the effect, after the INEC and PDP legal team had vehemently opposed the application for extension of time.
The tribunal chairman, who informed all the parties that the lead Counsels would be invited for a Special Chambers conference, to sort out all pending applications in order to identify which would be eligible for the trial proper, and with that aim of working towards fixing a date for trial proper, then adjourned further hearing in the matter to July 23 and 24, in view of the forthcoming Sallah celebrations, after which Ken Mozea, SAN, on behalf his legal team on the day, including Barr. Peter Mrakpor, wished Justice Gumi and all the Moslem faithful a happy sallah festivities.