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Tribunal: APC wins Appeal Court cases in Ondo

The Court of Appeal sitting in Akure, Ondo State capital has set aside the ruling of National and State House of Assembly Tribunal, which dismissed the two petitions of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) candidates for Akure South Constituency I, Festus Aregbesola and Ilaje Constituency II, Gbenga Edema.
In the unanimous judgment read by Justice Mojeed Owoade, the Court found merit in the two
appeals filed by Counsel to the APC, Charles Titiloye and set aside the order of the Tribunal dismissing the two petitions.
The Appeal Court mandated the constitution of a new panel of judges of the Election Tribunal to retry the election petitions on its merit.
It held that the application made for pre-hearing session by Titiloye was within the provisions of paragraph 18(1) of the first schedule to the Electoral Act.
The Court contended that the Tribunal erred in law to have dismissed the petitions.
It reasoned that the Tribunal was in the third day of pre-hearing session and hence the plaintiff cannot be said to have abandoned petition.
The Court of Appeal noted that paragraph 18(1) of the first schedule to the electoral Act did not use the word close of pleadings as the basis for application for pre-hearing.
It said it was wrong, therefore, for the Tribunal to have imported the provision from the Federal High Court rules on close of pleadings, which was not expressly contained in Electoral Act to dismiss the petition.
It held that the Tribunal was functus officio after making the said ruling and cannot thereafter raise the objection and rule on it without hearing the petition on its merit based on its earlier ruling.
The Appeal Court held that the view of the trial Court in its ruling that application for pre-hearing ought to be made for each and every Respondent is an obiter dictum which is not the reason of the Judgment of the said Tribunal.
It noted that Tribunal now administers substantial justice in election petition cases and all provisions of the electoral Act must be read together in order to do substantial justice.
The Court awarded a total cost of N100,000 each against the 1st and 2nd respondents in the appeal of Aregbesola and Edema.
Titiloye commended the Court of Appeal for standing for justice and fairness in its brilliant judgments in the appeals, which he said had opened up the electoral legal jurisprudence in Nigeria.
Similarly, the Appeal Court restored three other petitions for APC in Idanre, Ilaje Constituency I and Akoko North East earlier struck out by Justice Anthony Ogar led Election Tribunal and directed the Tribunal to hear the petitions on their merit.