The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Monday, closed its defence before the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja without calling witnesses.
The Advanced Nigerian Democratic Party (ANDP) filed a petition challenging its unlawful exclusion by INEC in the Nov. 16 Governorship election.
Other respondents are Governor Duoye Diri of Bayelsa State and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Counsel INEC, Mr. Ibrahim Bawa, informed the tribunal that having looked at the evidence presented by the petitioner, the commission will not call any witness.
Also, Gov. Diri’s counsel, Gordy Uche in his submission said: “we have analysed the strength of the petitioners case and we have come to the conclusion that there will be no need to present any witness”.
Uche further sought to tender three affidavits and when his application was not objected, he tendered a Certified True Copy ( CTC) affidavits verifying the ground in support of the withdrawal of the petition by the petitioner, with caption as EPT/BY/GOV/02/2019.
The three affidavits were thereafter admitted by the tribunal and Uche formally announced the closure of the third respondent’s case.
Counsel to the PDP, Mr Emmanuel Enoidem, on his part tendered a document, a Form EC25C which is the List of Nominated Candidates from the bar and formally closed his case.
Justice Muhammad Sirajo-led tribunal, in its response said that having listened to the submissions of the respondents’ counsel, the defence had come to an end.
Sirajo in addition directed counsel to utilise the stipulated time frame to file their written addresses before the tribunal.
He concluded by saying that the tribunal will inform them on a date for them to return for the adoption of their final written addresses.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that INEC had notified ANDP after the party submitted its gubernatorial candidate, King Lucky and the running mate, David Esinkuma that it had excluded the party from participating in Nov.16 gubernatorial election.
INEC cited the exclusion on the ground that Esinkuma was 34 years old and therefore did not qualify to contest as such.
The party alleged that its National Chairman, Charles Ogboli wrote INEC on Oct. 3, 2019 reminding it that it had no legal power according to Section 31 of the Electoral Act (2015), to disqualify any party for any ground whatsoever.
The party through its counsel Kehinde Ogunwumiju and Emmanuel Anene alleged that on the day of election however, it discovered that the name of the party and its logo were not on the ballot paper.
The petitioner, is therefore praying that the tribunal nullify the declaration and return of Diri and order a fresh election wherein INEC will include the name and logo of the ANDP.