The National/State House of Assembly sitting in Kano has reserved 31st May, 2023 to deliver its ruling on weather a time should be extended for INEC to respond to the petition by Abdussalam Abdulkarim Zaura or not.
Justice Watch News reliably gathered that INEC didn’t file its response to the petition within 21 days as provided by the Electoral Act 2022 as amended.
When the case resumed on Wednesday for the continuation of pretrial session, counsel to A.A Zaura, Barrister Adekunle Tayo Falola, who held the brief of Ishaka Dikko SAN, said time is sacrosanct in an election petition, urged the tribunal to so hold.
He further said by the position of First Schedule of Electoral Act 2022 as amended, procedure steps in election petitions are time bound, stressing that INEC as Respondent in the petition can only respond within 21 days.
Falola urged the Tribunal to dismiss INEC request for the extension of time, outside its 21 days as provided by Electoral Act.
The Counsel maintained that, if the Tribunal dismiss INEC application, it appears that the Electoral umpire didn’t oppose to the petition of AA Zaura.
In his response on the point of law, counsel to INEC, Barrister Abbas Haladu argued that Section 45 of the Electoral Act provides for the extension of time for the interest of justice.
The counsel further submitted that Section 45 sub 1 provides that Tribunal has the power to enlarge time of an issue before it.
He added that the time can be extended by a way of motion, after serving other parties in the petition.
“I feel so pain and worry why counsel to the petitioner is relying on old laws to truncate justice,”
He urged the tribunal to uphold his application by extending time to allow INEC to respond to the petition.
Earlier on, there was a heated arguments between counsel to the Petitioners, AA Zaura, Barrister AT Falola and that of Rufa’i Sani Hanga and NNPP, Barrister Meshak Ikpe, over the Preliminary Objection the respondents filed, seeking the court to dismiss the entire petition arguing that its purely a pre-election matter.
Counsel to Rufa’i Hanga submitted that their PO was premised on the fact that the entire petition by AA zaura is based on pre-election matters that ought not to be filed before Election Petition Tribunal.
The Counsel maintained that “The issue ought to have been dispensed before a regular court long time before now, but not to be reserved until the establishment of Tribunal and come through the window.”
On his part Counsel to the Petitioner Falola urged the Tribunal to dismiss the Preliminary Objection by Respondents, stressing that
when you raise an issue about qualification of a person alleged to have won election, the Electoral Act according to the counsel is being specific that section 65 sub 2 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria provided an answer.