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Alleged Forged Documents: Tribunal strikes Out Bayelsa Deputy Governor’s Application

Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja has struck out an application filed by the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Lawrence Ewrujakpor.

The dismissed application sought to bar the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the first respondent, from producing the alleged forged documents submitted to it by the deputy governor, 4th respondent.

The tribunal resumed for pre-hearing in a suit filed by the petitioner, Vijah Eldred Opuama, a governorship Candidate of Liberation Movement (LM) in the 2019 governorship election.

The Chairman of the tribunal, M. I Cirajo while striking out the application in his ruling, agreed with the submissions of Opuama’s lead lawyer, Pius Danba, that the practice of raising an objection in opposition to a subpoena was strange in law.

Danba argued that INEC was a material witness and the document sought to be tendered by the commission was essential to establish the claims that the fourth respondent submitted false information and was not qualified to contest the poll.

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The tribunal held that the application filed by the fourth respondent was premature and unripe as the subpoena was yet to be issued by the chairman of the tribunal.

The application which was struck out sought an order of the tribunal refusing the first arm of the petitioner’s application for the issuance of subpoena duces cum ad testificandum on Rukiya Na’ Uzo, INEC Deputy Director Legal, to tender the INEC Form CF001 submitted by the fourth respondent, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpor.

It also sought an order of the tribunal setting aside the issuance of subpoena duces tecum ad testificandum if the same had been issued and an order refusing to admit Rukiya Na Uzo Deputy Directory Legal INEC for purposes of tendering and testifying on the INEC Form CF001 submitted by the fourth Respondent.

Following the dismissal of the application, the tribunal issued the subpoena and a prehearing report which spelt out the schedule for the hearing of the petition.

The tribunal further adjourned to June 1, 2020, for the petitioner to open its case by calling his first witness.

Pius Danba, Ebikebuna Augustine Aluzu, and Ebi Robert appeared for the petitioner while I. O. Sule, SAN, and Adam Sani Baba, appeared for the first respondent.

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