Tribunal dismisses Lawani’s application to amend petition against Moro
The National/State House of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Makurdi has dismissed an application by former Deputy Governor of Benue State, Stephen Lawani, to amend his petition against Abba Moro before the tribunal.
Lawani, a Benue South Senatorial District candidate on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) is challenging the return of the People’s Democratic Party Senator-elect (PDP), Abba Moro, as the winner of the February 2019 National Assembly election for the district.
At the resumption of pre-hearing in the petition in Makurdi, yesterday, Lawani’s counsel, Sunday Okpare, prayed the tribunal to grant his client leave to amend his petition.
The application, dated May 8, 2019 and filed on May 10, 2019, was supported by two affidavits and sought to amend Lawani’s petition, list of documents to be relied on and deemed same as properly filed and served.
However, both Moro’s and PDP’s counsels raised objection to the application to amend the petition to which issues had been joined.
Kenneth Ikonne, who appeared for Moro, argued that amending the petition would have adverse effect on his reply. He submitted that the time allowed for the filing of election petitions was 21 days and since that time has elapsed, the petitioner cannot come before the tribunal to make substantial amendment to his petition to the extent of including new pleadings and reliefs. He, therefore, urged the tribunal to dismiss the application.
In his ruling, Justice C. M. Ken-Eze agreed with the submissions of Ikonne that the petitioner’s proposed amendment would introduce substantial issues to the petition. She held that the petitioner’s proposed amendment amount to substantial departure from the petition, noting that in the original petition, four reliefs were sought while in the proposed amendment, five new reliefs were added.
“The application is incompetent for introducing new things and is contrary to the provision of the Electoral Act and is hereby dismissed,” she held.
The matter was therefore adjourned to May 24, 2019, for pre-hearing.
The tribunal also adjourned the petition brought by Philip Orshe of PDP challenging the return of erstwhile Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Benue State Council, Bem Mngu as member representing Tarka State Constituency to May 24 for pre-hearing.
Also, the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Makurdi has fixed May 28 to commence pre-trial for the governorship petition filed by the APC candidate, Emmanuel Jime, against Samuel Ortom of the PDP.
The tribunal’s secretary, Deborah Musa, told newsmen that all court processes have been completed and the pretrial would begin.