Law News
Tribunal rejects Akpabio’s request for adjournment

The Akwa Ibom State National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja, where the election of former Governor Godswill Akpabio as senator representing Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District is being challenged, on Thursday, rejected a prayer for an indefinite adjournment of its proceedings.

The counsel representing Akpabio, his party, the Peoples Democratic Party – and the Independent National Electoral Commission, on Thursday, urged the tribunal to halt further proceedings pending when the Court of Appeal in Abuja would determine the issue of relocation of the tribunal back to Uyo.

The petition against Akpabio’s election on the platform of the PDP was filed by the All Progressives Congress and its candidate, Inibehe Okori in the April 28, 2015 poll.

The Justice Goddy Anunihun-led tribunal had adjourned till Thursday for ruling on Akpabio’s application challenging the relocation of the tribunal to Abuja.

Pre-hearing proceedings were also scheduled to follow the tribunal’s ruling on Thursday.

But Justice Anunihun informed parties at the commencement of the proceedings that the ruling was not ready.

The tribunal chairman explained that the ruling had not been written because the decision of the Court of Appeal, where the issue had been referred to, was being awaited.

Justice Anunihun said, “The tribunal is yet to conclude work on the ruling. It is the tribunal’s position to await the Court of Appeal’s decision in a case referred to it from the Federal High Court for the determination of similar issue.

“The need to defer the ruling is to avoid conflicting rulings on the same issue by different courts of coordinate jurisdiction.”

He therefore sought to proceed with the other business scheduled for the day.

But Akpabio’s lawyer, Offiong Offiong (SAN), the PDP’s lawyer, Adekunle Oyesanya (SAN), and the counsel representing INEC, T. Nweke, objected to the decision of the tribunal.

All parties in the case subsequently agreed that the tribunal reserved the right to decide when to deliver its ruling.

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