Ike Nnachi, Abakaliki
The Ebonyi Election Petitions Tribunal has dismissed the petition by the Labour Party candidate for Izzi/Abakaliki federal constituency election, Emmanuel Ezeh, against the election of Mr Emmanuel Uguru of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Uguru of the APC had been declared winner of the said election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
But Mr Eze alongside his party, LP, rejected the result and headed for the tribunal.
Uguru, his party, APC; INEC; and the Returning Officers were all joined in the suit as respondents.
However, the tribunal dismissed the petition for failure of the petitioners to comply with the Electoral Act in the filling of their own reply to the reply of all the respondents.
The court also said petitioners also failed to comply with the electoral act in the filing of the application of the pre-hearing notice.
Delivering judgment on behalf of the tribunal members, the Chairman, Justice A D Odokwo upheld the prayers of the 3rd/4th respondents(INEC/Returning Officer) in an application praying for dismissal of the case.
In the application the respondents/applicants had sought for an order dismissing the petition for failure of the petitioner to apply pre-hearing notice on the respondent.
They argued that the said failure was in breach of the electoral act particularly its first schedule.
The tribunal in its judgment agreed with the applicants.
It said: “The tribunal has made a finding that the reply to the applicants’ reply was filed out of time more than 29 days after the petitioner ought to have filed a reply.
“The filing for the Application for Pre-hearing Notice on 15th of May 2023 is clearly incompetent. The 1st Respondent filed his reply on the 23rd of April 2023.
“The Petitioner ought to have filed his Reply within five (5) days which expired on 27th April 2023. The Petitioner’s Reply was filed on 1″ May, 2023 , thirteen days after it ought to have been filed,” the tribunal said.
The tribunal further went on to explain that the hearing of election petition is time bound in the sense that an election tribunal is mandated by section 285 of the constitution to deliver its judgment within 180 days from the date of filing of the petition.
“In the final analysis and for all the reasons stated above, the petitioners failed to comply with the electoral act in the filling of their reply to the reply of all the respondents and the filing of the applications of the pre-hearing notice. The petition is hereby dismissed,” the court ruled.