Jime Vs Ortom: We Can’t Open Defence For Logistical Challenges – INEC

THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has told the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Makurdi, the Benue State capital that “due to logistical challenges,” it will be unable to open defence.

The national electoral body was due to open defence today in a petition filed by Emmanuel Jime of APC challenging the return of Samuel Ortom of PDP as Benue State Governor.

However, INEC lead counsel OEB Offiong SAN at the commencement of proceedings moved the Honourable Tribunal to adjourn the matter to 15th August, 2019 for defence.

“My Lords, the matter was fixed for the 1st Respondent (INEC) to open defence. Regretably, due to logistical challenges, we are unable to open today.

“We have reached a consensus (with my brothers of the inner Bar for the 2nd and 3rd Respondents and the petitioners) that the matter be adjourned to Thursday. I’ve given them my undertaking, that on that day we will open and close our case.

“In the light of that we are requesting the Honourable Tribunal to adjourn the matter to 15th August, 2019.”

Chief EK Ashiekaa SAN, Chief Chris Uche SAN and Kehinde Eleja SAN, who appeared respectively for 2nd Respondent (Ortom), 3rd Respondent (PDP), the Petitioners (Jime/APC) all gave their consent to the request by INEC’s counsel.

Chief Uche told the Honourable Tribunal: “I stand to confirm the position as stated by my learned brother silk for the 1st Respondent Chief Offiong. We have also agreed among ourselves, that cognisance of the timelines for various steps by the parties and also for the Honourable Tribunal to perform its own statutory responsibilitis in the matter in moving forward in due course, make consequential adjustments to timelines previously agreed upon.

“And we have all agreed to come back on 15th August, 2019, after the Sallah holiday to continue the proceedings subject to the convenience of Your Lordships.”

Eleja SAN, confirmed on behalf of the petitioners that “parties have agreed to come back next Thursday for the 1st Respondent to present his case.”

Chairman of the Tribunal Honourable Justice Henry A. Olusiyi, in his ruling granted the request as prayed.

“We are satisfied with adjustment of time to allow the Tribunal sufficient time to prepare its decision. The application for extension of time is hereby granted.

“This petition is adjourned to 15th August, 2019 to enable the 1st Respondent open defence,” Justice Olusiyi held.

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