Friday, July 22, 2011

President Jonathan sued to court by CPC for rigging in 2011 Presidential Election

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday approached the Supreme Court to challenge the ruling of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal that President Goodluck Jonathan and the party must answer allegations of rigging
and other irregularities contained in the petition filed by the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) on the 2011 presidential election.
Counsel to the PDP, Joe Gadzama, in his notice of appeal, said the Justices of the lower court erred in law when they held that the CPC petition, which was filed on a Sunday, is competent.
According to him, Sunday is a public holiday and a dies non juridicus (a day on which a judicial act cannot be performed).
"Pursuant to Order 46 Rule 4 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009, the Chief Judge is only permitted to give directions as to sitting on a Sunday and not filing on a Sunday," Mr Gadzama said.
He wants an order of the Apex court setting aside the tribunal's ruling, allowing the appeal, and dismissing and/or striking out the petition for being incompetent.
Presiding judge, Ayo Salami, had dismissed the preliminary objection of Mr Jonathan and the PDP to hearing of the petition because it was filed on Sunday, which was a non-working day. Mr Salami ruled that the petition is competent and would be heard on its merit.
"The days of technicalities are over. The tribunal will hear and determine the petition on its merit," he said, adding that the petition is competent as the registry of the tribunal was open for business on Sunday in order to hasten the assignment of the tribunal, which has a life span.
On the objection that the tribunal should dismiss the petition because it was not properly constituted, as Muhammadu Buhari and Tunde Bakare, for whose benefit the petition was filed, were not made parties to the petition, Mr Salami ruled that the Electoral Act and the 2010 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria permits the CPC petition.
"The Electoral Act 2010 and the 2010 Constitution allows either the candidates or the party or both to file an election petition before an election petition tribunal," he ruled.
The CPC case
Joined as defendants in the suit are the Independent National Electoral Commission; its chairman, Attahiru Jega; Goodluck Jonathan; Namadi Sambo; Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); and the Resident Electoral Commissioners for the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The CPC is contesting the result of the election in about 20 states of the federation. They are to call 151 witnesses to prove their case.
The tribunal had recently ordered the INEC to provide to the CPC the list of local contractors engaged by the commission to print ballot papers used in the presidential election.
It also directed INEC to allow the petitioners unfettered access to ballot papers and other electoral materials used in the April presidential election in the custody of the electoral body.

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