*INEC’s stand, injurious to Ihedioha – legal expert
By Agu Diamond Bryan
CPS to senator Araraume
There was palpable tension in the air as INEC opens their defence Thursday 25th of July 2019 at the ongoing lmo state Governorship election petition tribunal sitting in owerri the lmo state capital.
At the resumed hearing, counsel to INEC Aham Eke Ejelam (SAN) informed the court of his constraint in going ahead with the matter as his sole witness did not appear in court. He sought from the court for an adjournment to enable him produce his witness.
Counsel to the petitioner Awa Kalu (SAN) while reacting, did not object to an adjournment provided the witness will appear on the adjourned date . Counsel to other respondents PDP and Ihedioha aligned with the decision to adjourn the matter to enable INEC produce their witness. Justice M. U Dogojani while ruling on the matter adjourned hearing to Friday 26th July.
On Friday 26th July, at the resumed hearing, Awa Kalu (SAN) informed the court that the matter for the day was for INEC to open their defence with the appearance of their sole witness. At that point, counsel to INEC in a dejected mood informed the court on his handicap once again as his sole witness, again did not show appearance in court. A situation that devastated counsel to Ihedioha Onyechi ikpeazu (SAN) and PDP Emeka Etiaba(SAN) respectively. The barometric guage of the tension in the court room became palpable, visible and obvious to supporters of Ihedioha that the matter may have taken a negative dimension which albeit may not eventually end in their favour.
The tension has the potential of enveloping and discouraging the PDP supporters in the state should the current trend whereby the battery of PDP, and Ihedioha’s lawyers and principal counsels are left at the mercy of their counterparts nay lawyers appearing for senator Araraume and APGA ably led by Awa Kalu (SAN).
Recall that the petitioner, Distinguished Senator Ifeanyi Araraume had appeared before the election petition tribunal on Tuesday the 23rd of July with plethora of documents contained in well over 10 big Ghana must go bags ,the documents are believed to be evidence to prove that the March 9th Governorship election in which the umpire INEC declared Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha as the winner was marred with over voting, electoral fraud, violence and malpractices.
The testimony of the petitioner and plethora of evidence adduced before the tribunal where so overwhelming that the tribunal admitted all in evidence and marked as exhibit which inadvertently marked the close of arguments,and submissions of all witnesses from the petitioner.
When asked by the Chairman of the tribunal Hon Justice M. U. Dogodanji if he has another witness, INEC counsel responded thus, “I cannot present another witness when the real witness name was forwarded to the tribunal in our front loaded documents”.
On Friday 26th July, the tribunal was filled to capacity as both the All Progressives Grand Alliance supporters and People’s Democratic Party respectively struggled for space.
The implication of the admittance of not producing a witness is very simple firstly, INEC by that act, have closed their case. Secondly the electoral umpire (INEC) appears to have accepted and acknowledged that the collation of LGA’S and Ward results done outside the catchment, zone and LGA areas, in the March 9th election was unlawful, illegal and against the provisions of the electoral act.
More Worrisome was the barbaric act perpetrated by Barrister Steve Asimobi, Paschal Onwukaike and Uche Onyeaguocha in the destruction of, and tearing into shreds results from some LGA’S which resulted to violence, another sure prove that the gubernatorial election results as announced by INEC couldn’t have been authentic, an indication that they erred in law by declaring Ihedioha winner of the March 9th 2019 lmo Governorship election
Onyechi ikpeazu (SAN) counsel to Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha pleaded with the court to adjourn till 16th August for them to open their defence with their witnesses appearing in court.
The court declined to his request but fixed 5th and 16th of August for the opening of their defence.
One of the PDP lawyers was courageous to tell this reporter out of camera that the game is up for the second respondent Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha while a green cap wearing militant supporter of the PDP governorship candidate, expressed regrets and disappointment that INEC has abandoned Ihedioha at last despite billions allegedly paid for, to secure the fake albeit fraudulently procured results.
As the legal team to the second respondent opens their defence on the 5th of July, ,legal experts and political analyst’s are of the opinion that With Distinguished senator Ifeanyi Araraume tendering his evidence nay substantiating his claims, without an apparent objection by the umpire, then it is a sure proof that the 2019 governorship Election in lmo state was a sham, the stage may be getting set for a possible re-run.
The days ahead seems to be very interesting.