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LG Poll: LP chairmanship candidate faults composition of petition tribunal by Edo CJ

INEC disowns LP’s national convention

Daniel Ero, Labour Party chairmanship candidate for Oredo in the September 2, 2023 local government election in Edo State, has faulted the composition of the Local Government Election Petition Tribunal by the Chief Judge of the State.

The Registrar of the Edo State High Court, .O. Osawaru, had in a press statement dated August 31, 2023 announced the composition of the Local Government Election Petition Tribunal by Justice D. I. Okungbowa, the Chief Judge of the State.

Osawaru said the Chief Judge constituted three-man panel for the tribunal which are Justice A. T. Momodu as chairman, D. O. Fiade-Isirame (Mrs) and F. I. Oghoator (Mrs) as members.

Ero said that the three-man panel was a negation of the Edo State Independent Electoral Commission (EDSIEC) relevant laws.

He opined that Section 78(3) & (4) of the Edo State Local Government Election Law, 2012 (as amended) provided for a five-man panel and not three.

The LP candidate in a petition dated September 15, 2023 and titled ‘Re: Urgent Request for the Immediate Establishment of a Local Government Election Tribunal in Line with Section 78 of the Edo State Local Government Election Law, 2012”, however, appreciated the Chief Judge for setting up the Tribunal.

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“May, I however, respectfully bring Your Lordship’s attention to a matter of utmost importance that warrants immediate consideration. I have been informed by my lawyers that a press release for the constitution of election petition tribunal, which may have been hastily drafted, contains a significant oversight.

“Specifically, the press statement asserted that the Chief Judge has approved the composition of a Local Government Election Tribunal comprising three members only.

“A Local Government Election Tribunal composed of three members deviates from the mandatory provisions of Section 78(3) & (4) of the Edo State Local Government Law, 2012 (as amended), which unequivocally stipulate as follows:

“The tribunal shall be a judicial tribunal of five members, including the Chairman and four other members.

“The Chairman shall be a serving High Court Judge and four other members shall be appointed from judicial officials who shall not be below the rank of Chief Magistrate,” he said.

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Ero posited that the composition of the election petition tribunal in line with the relevant laws would not only safeguard the integrity and legitimacy of the tribunal’s proceedings but would also demonstrate the commitment of the Edo State Judiciary to upholding the principles of justice, fairness, and the rule of law.

The Labour Party chairmanship candidate, further noted that it was a fundamental rule of the constitution and administrative legal framework that where a legislation lays down a procedure for doing a thing, there should be no other method of doing it.

He added that failure to follow the laid-down procedure renders any act purportedly done under that statute null and void.

According to him, “It is, therefore, imperative that we uphold the rule of law and ensure strict adherence to the provisions of the Edo State Local Government Election Law, 2012 (as amended).

“It is in the light of the foregoing that I am constrained to once again respectfully request that Your Lordship takes immediate steps to remedy this situation by reconstituting the Local Government Election Tribunal with the full complement of five members, as required by law.”

He enjoined the Chief Judge to “take the necessary actions to rectify the composition of the Tribunal promptly.”