By Bukola Olasanmi
The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Makurdi, the Benue State capital has adjourned for 24th June 2019 for trial of the case between the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in the just concluded 2019 elections.
Barr. Emmanuel Jime and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Governor Samuel Ortom.
Emmanuel Jime is challenging the return of Governor Samuel Ortom of Peoples Democratic Party ( PFP) as Governor of Benue State at the tribunal.
Justice Adebola Olusiyi, chairman of the panel who issued the order at the end of prehearing said the “course is now clear and the stage is set for full trial.”
According to Justice Olusiyi, there shall be strict compliance with the number of days parties are entitled to.”
He noted that there is only one pending Motion on Notice which will be taken outside prehearing.
Ortom’s lead counsel Sabastian Hon SAN, who responded on behalf of the Bar assured the panel of their cooperation towards ensuring that trial is conducted in line with the law.
He thanked their Lordships for the conduct of proceedings thus far.
Earlier, while ruling on application by INEC for an order striking out certain paragraphs of Jime’s reply, Justice Olusiyi held that the panel cannot depart from its earlier position, to defer ruling until the substantive petition is heard.
The chairman further held that there is no compulsion on the Tribunal to deliver ruling on applications before hearing the substantive petition.
He accordingly differs ruling on the application pending hearing of the substantive petition.
Similarly, Ortom’s application which was struck out last week and refiled was argued and deferred for ruling at the conclusion of hearing.
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The fresh motion, which is dated 31st May, 2019 was filed on 1st June, 2019, is predicated on five grounds and supported by an eight-paragraph affidavit.
According to Hon, the application is targeted at two things: 1. To strike out certain paragraphs of Jime’s reply to the second respondent’s reply to the petition and 2. To strike out additional witness statement on oath in the petitioner’s reply to the second respondent’s reply to the petition.
Hon argued that in replying to the second respondent’s reply to the petition, the petitioner offends the law by introducing new pleadings.