Saturday, 11 June 2016

My Petition Is Still On Course – Daniel Onjeh

In spite of the delay and frustration I got from INEC in receiving the Certified True Copies (CTC) of electoral materials used for the Benue South Rerun Election, I was still able to file my Petition within the time required by law.

Contrary to the syndicated report by some journalists who desecrate the ethics of professional journalism, to cash in on the opportunity provided to them by my persistent challenge of my opponent’s purported declarations to extort money fro him, my lawyer never said that there was no time limit for filling Election Petition, instead he told the tribunal that we complied with Section 285 (5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Thus, we were within the time prescribed by law.

These journalists, bereft of a modicum principle and ethics of their practice, who always cluster round my opponent’s media aid, Mr Adakole Elijah, to take directives on the perspective in which to report, also depicted INEC as the only respondent asking the court to dismiss my petition for being status barred. This if far from the truth! PDP and David Mark instead are in the frontline, INEC only tagged along. Their lies and gimmicks is to forestall public questioning on why Mark and his party are working round the clock using a technicality to stop the hearing of the petition if their claim of winning the election is true?

The provision of the Electoral Act 2006, on the subject matter, which states that ” An election petition shall be filed within 30 days FROM the DATE of the declaration of result of the election ” was repealed by the law makers and exported into the constitution as Sec. 285 (5), which provides that : ” An election petition shall be filed within 21 days AFTER the DATE of the declaration of result of the election ” (Capital letters for emphasis).

Under the new electoral regime, I have within 21 days AFTER the DATE declaration of the Benue South Result, the said election took place on February 20, 2016, the result was declared the next day, February 21, 2016, and I filled my petition on the March 13th, 2016. These facts are not in dispute before the Tribunal. How did I file out of time?

My opponent’s case in his lengthy submissions before the tribunal when his motion for preliminary objection was heard is that, I filled my petition one day late, because, according to him and the other two respondents, (PDP and INEC), that in the computation of time within which to file election petition, the date of declaration of the result is inclusive. This reasoning would have been supported by the old law, which says ” 30 days FROM the date of declaration” but certainly not by the extant law which provides that ” 21 days AFTER the DATE of declaration” The wordings of the constitution is clear and unambiguous, and the law urges there natural and ordinary meaning be given to the and not to be interpreted otherwise.,

The only fair and balanced reports emanating from eyewitness at the Tribunal are those from Ukan Kurugh- online reporter, and News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN).

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