From Okey Sampson, Umuahia
Petition filed by the defeated candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Abia North senatorial zone, Mao Ohuabunwa, suffered setback, yesterday, as he may no longer be able to complete the hearing of his petition within the 180 days the tribunal has to hearing and give judgment in the case.
At its resumed sitting, the Abia State National Assembly election petitions tribunal sitting in Abuja, set aside the service on all the respondents of the petition (EPT/SEN/1/2023) filed by Ohuabunwa.
The tribunal during the hearing of a motion to strike out the petition as incompetent, found out as a fact that page 57A was missing in the copies of the petition that was served on all the respondents.
In a manner that looked strange, the said page 57A was only found in the copy of the petition the petitioner’s counsel had and that of the tribunal, therefore giving rise to suspicions that the said page 57A was fraudulently smuggled into the petition after the same had been served on the respondents, as the said page 57A was the only page in the petition that was numbered with an alphabet.
As the respondents were expected to be served with the certified true copies of the petition, the counsel for the 3rd respondent, Gordy Uche, the counsel for the 2nd respondent, S. E. Elema and the counsel for the 1st respondent, Tunde Afe Babalola with Uche Awa, jointly applied to the tribunal to set aside the service on the respondents of the incomplete petition.
The tribunal agreed with the submissions of said senior advocates of Nigeria and accordingly set aside the service of the petition on the respondents.
Following the development, the case was not adjourned to any later date as the case would only commence again when all the respondents were served afresh with the correct and certified true copies of the petition which may be outside the 180 days window allowed by the constitution for the commencement and final dispensation of such matters.