Governor Godwin Obaseki (l) and Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu

The Edo State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Benin City, the Edo state capital, has dismissed the petition filed by the Action Alliance (AA) party, challenging the exclusion of the party and its candidate, Ukonga Onaivi, in the September 19, 2020 governorship election in the state.

The Tribunal, which has Justice Chukwudi Nwakwo as Chairman and Justices Abdulrazak Abdulkareem and Josephine Ayua as members, in a unanimous ruling, on Friday, December 11, declared that the petition against both Governor Obaseki and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, (first and second respondents respectively) failed on the ground that the petitioners failed to file the pre-hearing notice.

As a result, Justice Nwakwo, who read the judgment, ruled that the petitioners were deemed to have abandoned the petition and, thereafter, dismissed the suit.

Recall that the Action Alliance, AA and its governorship candidate, Ukonga Onaivi, had in their petition with reference number: EPT/ED/GOV/03/2020, against Obaseki, PDP and INEC (respondents), claimed that Onaivi was unlawfully excluded in the September 19 election, in spite of being the validly-nominated candidate of the party, in line with the Electoral Act.

AA and its governorship candidate had therefore prayed the tribunal to nullify both the September 19, Edo State governorship election and INEC’s declaration of victory to Governor Obaseki of PDP and prayed for fresh election to be ordered within 90 days, while the validly-nominated candidate (Onaivi of AA) and APP should be included in the new ballot papers.

Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, counsel to Governor Obaseki and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had in his final submission on Monday, December 7, argued that the petitioner failed to file for issuance of pre-hearing notice, which is one of the conditions required by the Electoral Act 2010.

The tribunal had consequently adjourned to Friday, December 11( today), for ruling.

The petition is one of five filed by various individuals and their political parties at the tribunal to challenge Governor Godwin Obaseki/Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu’s victory at the September 19, Edo state governoship election.

Two out of the five petitions, specifically those of AA and the APP, had been filed on the grounds that they had been unlawfully excluded and as the validly-nominated candidates of their respective parties, should be included in a new ballot papers, ad they had also prayed that the tribunal nullify the Edo guber election and fix a date for a fresh poll.

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