Declare me winner of Rivers State guber election, LP candidate, Edeoga tells Enugu Tribunal

By Seun Adegoke

It was a moment of sorrow today for the Labour Party, its candidate, Chijioke Edeoga and their supporters as their lawyers in their final written address told the Enugu State Governorship Election Tribunal sitting in Enugu to declare Chijioke Edeoga and the Labour Party the winner of the March 18 governorship election held in Rivers State.

The tribunal earlier today resumed sitting to allow all the parties to adopt their final written addresses.

After the first respondent, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), second respondent, Peter Mbah and the third respondent, the Peoples Democratic Party had finished adopting their final written addresses, adumbrating all that had happened in the course of the trial, the Labour Party lead counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, moved an oral application, seeking for the tribunal to grant them the time to amend an error in their address where they had urged the court to declare Edeoga the winner of the election in Rivers State having secured the majority of the lawful votes cast.

This application was vehemently opposed by all the respondents involved in the matter while flooding the tribunal with plethora of cases already decided by the Supreme Court which says that it is against the practice of law to allow parties to amend a final written addresses which have already been adopted and passed the timeframe allotted to parties to file their addresses and replies.

Expressing shock over the development, the lead counsel to the second respondent, Wole Olanipekun, SAN urged the tribunal to totally discountenance the application made by Edeoga as the tribunal is bound by the law to deliver its judgment within the period of 180 days, arguing that granting of such application will lead to further replies by the respondents and will equally subject the respondents to injustice which will not be remedied.

“The injustice we will suffer will be in perpetuity, it can’t be remedied if an order is guaranteed for further replies. In paragraph 4.1 of their final written address, they went to add a fresh issue and we oppose this vehemently.

“An address that contains issues for determination is not formulated retrospectively but prospectively. My Lords, I refer you to the case of Omisore against Aregbesola (2015), Wellington against PDP (2023), the decisions of the Supreme Court is clear on this matter. Therefore, I urge this tribunal to ignore this application,” Olanipekun said.

The lead counsel to third respondent (PDP), Alex Iziyon while reacting to the application made by the petitioners described it as flogging a dead horse. He maintained that the statement as written in Edeoga’s final written address reflects the true position of what happened, adding that it was a deliberate and willful submission by the petitioner who had all the time to crosscheck his address but chose to leave it the way it has been truly written, adding that Edeoga contested in Rivers State and not in Enugu State.

According to him, there was never a similarity between the name of Enugu State and Rivers State, neither do they share the same boundary. He argued that it has exposed the lies they have been peddling before the tribunal through the witnesses they called to blaspheme the second respondent for forging the National Youth Service Discharge Certificate.

In a short interview with the press, one of the legal counsel to Chijioke Edeoga who identified himself as Ifeanyi Ogenyi (Esq.) told newsmen that lawyers are human beings and not infallible. He stated that though the mistake was grievous, the tribunal is expected to tamper justice with mercy and approach the issues with human reasoning instead of applying laws on critical issues like this.

He said that it was mere typographical errors but due to their hastiness to meet up with the short time given to write their final written addresses, they failed to notice the mistakes.

The tribunal Chairman, Justice Kudirat Akano has said that the ruling on the application will come along with the judgment which will be communicated to all the parties in due time.

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