The Lagos State Governorship Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olajide Adediran popularly known as Jandor has asked the State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Ikeja to grant him an extension of time to conclude his evidence.
The petitioner is also seeking an order of the Tribunal directing West African Examination Council (WAEC) to grant access to the petitioners and forensic experts, each to be appointed by the parties in the petition to carry out audit of its result verification portal, back-end server and other information technology infrastructure in the presence of the secretary of the Tribunal.
Jandor’s counsel, Clement Onwuenwunor, SAN, urged the tribunal to grant leave to the petitioners to file the application at this stage in the interest of justice and fair hearing.
The application dated July 2 was filed on July 4.
He said, “The petitioner has the right to bring any application that can sustain his petition and is pertinent to the proceedings.
“The petitioner also has the opportunity to be heard and to be further heard by the tribunal. I did not seek for adjournment my lords, I only sought for direction.
“In the pre-hearing report, your lordships were magnanimous to give us four days and the fourth day has not even been spent yet.
“We sought an extension of time in our application today and no one can constrain your lordship to any particular action.”
Counsel for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Adetunji Oyeyipo, SAN, on his part urged the tribunal to close Jandor’s case.
Oyeyipo said that he did not see any reason for the extension of time as the application was unmerited
“It is obvious that it is until the petitioner gets the answer to what he wants, he will continue to fish for evidence.
“Granting them another day means that the tribunal will grant us some days to respond and the tribunal does not have the luxury of time.
“We urge the court to close the case of the petitioner today,” Oyeyipo said.
Counsel for Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and his Deputy, Obafemi Hamzat, also aligned with INEC’s position that Jandor should close his case.
The counsel, Benjamin Nwosu, said paragraph 18 sub 10 of the Electoral Act could only be modified upon application to the tribunal.
According to him, there was no application to modify the pre-hearing report.
“All applications must be heard during pre-hearing session.
“The business of the day is continuation of hearing and it should be noted that the petitioners have called all their witnesses and they do not have any pending application to call more witnesses.
“What the petitioner is seeking to do is unknown to electoral practice and the law is right that proceedings in election tribunal are strictly time bound.
“We therefore urge your lordships to close the petitioners’ case and to discountenance their application as being the abuse of the process of the court, he said.”
Counsel for the All Progressive Congress (APC), Norisson Quakers, SAN, however, told the tribunal that the application was not ripe for hearing.
He said, “The rule says that the petitioner shall have three days to prove their case and shall not go beyond four days.
“My question is what is the nature of this intervening application?
“Is it seeking to amend the petition? As the application having being served on us also require our responses which will take days to respond.
“Our humble application is that this application is not ripe for hearing. We need time to respond but it must not go beyond today.”
Folagbade Benson, counsel for the Labour Party (LP) candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, , however, left it at the discretion of the court.
“Lagos is watching, Nigeria is also watching. The petitioner has brought an application and the tribunal had not heard it. I leave it at the discretion of the court,” he said.
In its ruling, the tribunal led by Justice Arum Ashom directed Jandor’s counsel to serve the respondents counsel and they should give their responses between Tuesday and Wednesday.
“The hearing of the application for extension of time is hereby adjourned until July 6,” Ashom said.
The tribunal had earlier discharged the subpoenaed witness from WAEC after the petitioner’s counsel sought to withdraw the subpoena issued by the court.