Ms Tolu Ebun, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) House of Representatives candidate for Shomolu Federal Constituency at the March 28, 2015 National Assembly elections, has alleged unnecessary delays designed to ensure that the period of 180 days required by the Constitution for the conclusion of her petition at the tribunal elapses before the substantive matter is heard.
32-year-old Ebun approached the National Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Lagos to challenge the declaration of Mr. Oyewole Olufemi Diya of the All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“There are attempts by the APC to use members of the judiciary to scuttle my petition by unnecessary delay due in part to changes in the constitution of the panel. The first Chairperson of the tribunal panel was Mrs. C. N. Anwuka of the Imo State Customary court who was appointed in clear violation of the provisions of Section Section 285(3) & the 6th Schedule of the Constitution which provide for the establishment of the panel and stipulate that the Chairman of the Panel has to be a Judge of the High Court. Further investigations revealed that Mrs. Anwuka is married to a former SSG of Imo State during the first tenure of Governor Rochas Okorocha. Furthermore, her son is married to one of the Imo State Governor’s daughters. Mrs. Anwuka was only removed after strenuous objections by various petitioners who raised questions over her qualifications to serve as Chairperson of the panel as well as questions over her ability to be impartial given her close family and political relationship with the Governor of Imo State and APC,” she said.
She was replaced with Justice Raheem Siyanbola of the Osun State High Court, who was a member of the election petition tribunal panel that dismissed the petition of Chief Emeka Ihedioha, former deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and PDP candidate for the Imo State gubernatorial elections, on the basis of a technicality.
According to Ms Ebun, “Justice Siyanbola raised this technicality similar to the one that formed the basis for dismissal in Imo State on behalf of the APC candidate, Mr. Olufemi Diya, then adjourned sitting till a date when he is supposed to give his ruling. All arguments by my counsel to get him to hear two applications (an an Application for leave/extension of time and an Application to set aside a fraudulent affidavit of service filed by the Respondent) we have filed before him were abortive despite both applications being filed before he raised the technicality.”