The tribunal, however, refused to strike out Mr. Ngige’s suit.
The Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Awka, Anambra State, has dismissed a motion filed by Chris Ngige which sought additional exhibits and witnesses to prove his petition against Willie Obiano.
The tribunal in its ruling delivered in Awka on Wednesday by a member of the panel, Justice Akintola Akiniyi, held that the documents sought to be added were sourced outside the designated INEC office.
Mr. Ngige, a senator, was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the elections, while Mr. Obiano was the candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, and was declared winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
The counsel to INEC, Mr. Obiano and Victor Umeh’s faction of APGA, Adegboyega Awomolo, Onyechi Ikpeazu, and Patrick Iweto respectively had opposed the motion.
“All the computer generated documents from the law office of the applicant sought to be added by counsel to Ngige, Chief Olarotimi Akeredolu were produced outside the order of the tribunal.
“This, however, has affected the credibility of the documents and cannot be accepted.
“Accordingly, the application to file, serve and rely on the additional witness statements cannot be granted and hereby dismissed,” the tribunal held.
The tribunal further held that the dismissal would not affect the validity of other evidence to be relied upon by the petitioner.
Mr. Ngige is challenging the election of Mr. Obiano in the governorship election held in Anambra in 2013 on grounds of electoral malpractice.
In another ruling read by Justice John Viko, the tribunal dismissed, for lack of merit, consolidated motions which sought outright striking out of the petition at the pre-hearing sessions.
It held that the motion which sought the striking out of specified paragraphs of the various petitions would be heard and determined during pre-hearing.
“Those seeking outright dismissal of the petition will be heard and determined along with the substantive petitions.
“This tribunal views the innovation introduced by paragraphs 12 (5) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2010 as a step towards promoting peace, substantial justice and ultimately enhancing a healthy policy.
“It allows aggrieved members of the society to ventilate their grievances free from legal technicalities,” the tribunal said.
The tribunal in another petition adjourned till February 25 ruling on a motion filed by Chike Obidigbo seeking to be joined as a respondent in all the petitions.
Similarly, the tribunal adjourned till February 25 ruling on motions filed by counsel to INEC, Mr. Obiano and APGA seeking to strike out some paragraphs of the petition filed by Tony Nwoye.
It also adjourned till February 24 for Mr. Akeredolu to reply on motions filed by counsel to INEC, Mr. Obiano and APGA seeking to strike out some paragraphs of Mr. Ngige’s petition for being vague, imprecise and generic in nature.
The chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ishaq Bello, expressed the hope that the tribunal will conclude pre-hearing on February 25.
He solicited for the cooperation of all parties to achieve this.