The governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, and three other respondents in four of the five petitions filed at the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Benin, will know their fates from January 11 next year.
Other respondents in the petitions are Obaseki’s deputy/running mate, Philip Shaibu; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The four other petitions before the tribunal were filed by Action Democratic Party (ADP) and its governorship candidate, Iboi Emmanuel; Action Peoples Party (APP), without joining its governorship candidate, Amos Areloegbe; Allied Peoples Movement (APM), excluding its governorship candidate, Igbineweka Osamuede; and Tracy Agol, without joining her political party, the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
The Justice Yunusa Musa-led three-member tribunal at Wednesday sitting within the premises of Edo State High Court on Sapele Road, Benin, disclosed that hearing in the four petitions would separately be on January 11, 12 and 13, 2021.
Chairman of the tribunal at the sitting revealed that APP and Agol would have the trial in their petitions on January 11, with the trial in APM’s petition to be on January 12, while trial in ADP’s petition would be on January 13 next year.
The four petitions sought the nullification of the September 19 re-election of Obaseki and Shaibu, while calling for fresh election by INEC, but to exclude PDP, Obaseki and his running mate, in view of the call for their disqualification over alleged forgery of their certificates.
ADP and its governorship candidate, in the petition with reference number: EPT/ED/GOV/01/2020, with INEC, PDP, Obaseki, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as respondents, prayed the tribunal to disqualify Obaseki over his controversial first degree certificate from the University of Ibadan (UI).
The ADP and its governorship candidate is also praying the court to nullify the votes cast for him, thereby ordering INEC to conduct a fresh election involving all other qualified governorship candidates, excluding PDP and Obaseki.
On the other hand, the APM filed a petition with reference number: EPT/ED/GOV/04/2020, excluding its governorship candidate, Igbineweka Osamuede, with INEC, PDP, Obaseki and Shaibu as respondents, while alleging irregularities during the September 19 governorship election and that Obaseki and Shaibu were not qualified to contest the poll.
The party also prayed for an order nullifying the entire governorship election of September 19, 2020 in Edo State, for substantial non-compliance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, and the extant Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, thereby ordering a fresh election.
The petition from Agol, with reference number: EPT/ED/GOV/05/2020, without joining her political party, the NNPP, with INEC, PDP and Obaseki as respondents, while insisting that Edo governor was not qualified to contest the September 19 election.
Agol’s sole ground for filing the petition was that Obaseki, at the time of the poll, was not qualified to contest the election, quoting Section 138 (1) (a) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended.
She also alleged that Edo governor presented forged/false certificate to INEC, contrary to Section 182 (1) (J) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, as amended.
The NNPP’s governorship candidate also prayed for an order to compel INEC to conduct fresh election involving all the qualified candidates, excluding PDP and Obaseki, whom she alleged were constitutionally disqualified from contesting the 2020 governorship election, while the certificate of return issued to Obaseki by INEC must also be nullified.
Agol, alternatively sought a declaration that Obaseki’s participation in the election should be declared null and void, having participated in the primary election process of the APC and later the PDP, in respect of the same governorship election in Edo state.
The APP on its part in the petition against Obaseki, PDP and INEC as respondents, with reference number: EPT/ED/GOV/02/2020, claimed that it was unlawfully excluded.