The Election Petitions Tribunal in Sokoto State has dismissed a motion seeking to strike out the petition challenging the return of Alhaji Sa’idu Bargaja of the PDP as member-elect for Isa/Sabon-Birni Federal Constituency.
The APC candidate in the election, Alhaji Sani Aminu-Isa, and his party, had filed a petition over alleged election malpractice.
Bargaja on his side filed an application to dismiss the petition in its entirety. His Counsel, Ibrahim Abdullahi, argued that the petitioners failed to apply for pre-hearing session within seven days as required by law.
He added that the petitioners did not comply with Paragraph 18(1) of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act as amended, and that it had thus become an abandoned petition.
He also said the petition was fundamentally defective and liable to be dismissed.
Opposing the motion, Counsel to the petitioners, Steve Nwoke, argued that the application to strike out their petition was premised on wrong assumption that it did not comply with the requirements.
He explained that they applied within six days of service and thus, in compliance to the requirement; but that it was payment that was made at a later date.
Delivering ruling yesterday, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Peter Akhihiero, said it was evident that the petitioners submitted their request within time and that the late payment did not invalidate it.
He, therefore, resolved the matter in favour of the petitioners and dismissed the motion. The judge also awarded N20,000 as cost, and thereafter adjourned to May 10, for continuation of pre-hearing.
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