By Ibraheem Solaudeen
Barr. Razak Atunwa, Kwara State candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general elections in the state is requesting the governorship elections petition tribunal sitting in Ilorin, the State capital, to order a fresh poll.
Atunwa made the demand today (Wednesday) at the pre-hearing trial of the tribunal through his counsel and that of the state chapter of his party, the PDP.
Counsel to Mr. Atunwa and PDP, Barr. Kingsley Odeh argued that the winner of the polls, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was not qualified to contest the poll.
“Our ground was that the second respondent at the time of elections was not qualified. He gave false certificate to INEC. Secondly, he gave false information in aid of his educational qualification.
“In other words, when such prayers are made, the tribunal will have to nullify the election and order for a fresh elections. That’s what we are seeking before the tribunal. We seek for fresh elections because the proper thing is that if the second respondent is disqualified, it is to order for fresh elections and not for the petitioner to be sworn in as the rightful winner”‘, the lawyer argued.
At the pre-hearing session today, which was meant to adopt petitioners’ answers to pre-hearing information sheet, applications before the tribunal were filed and adopted.
The lead judge in the tribunal, Justice Bassey Effiong, who warned counsels in the case to avoid wasting time, said the tribunal would not extend the 14-day period for the pre-hearing trial and therefore advised counsels to consolidate their petitions.
Meanwhile, counsel to the electoral body, INEC, Rowland Otaru said that the petition cannot be consolidated with that of Action Alliance (AA), arguing that each petition should be treated on its individual merit.
Otaru, who also argued that the tribunal proceedings would not take longer than necessary, said that most of the issues raised are documentary and witnesses are few. While noting that the petitioner did not file reply to INEC pleadings, Otaru observed that not doing so is an indication that the pleadings of his client, INEC, are solid.
The pre-hearing trial, which is meant to last for 14 working days, continues tomorrow (Thursday).