The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in Benue State, on Thursday adjourned to August 15, 2019, for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to open its defence.
INEC was expected to open its defence on Thursday but when the case resumed, lawyer to the electoral umpire, Offiong Offiong, SAN, made an oral application for adjournment, citing logistical reasons.
He added that his client would also open and close its defense on that same day.
The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Emmanuel Jime, is challenging the election of Governor Samuel Ortom.
“My lords, the matter was fixed for the 1st respondent (INEC) to open defence. Regrettably, due to logistical challenges, we are unable to open today.
“We have reached a consensus (with my brothers of the inner bar for the 2nd and 3rd respondents and the petitioners) that the matter be adjourned to Thursday. I’ve given them my undertaking, that on that day we will open and close our case.
“In the light of that, we are requesting the honourable tribunal to adjourn the matter August 15, 2019.”
The People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Chris Uche, (SAN) and that of Governor Ortom, Chief Edward Ashiekaa (SAN), confirmed the submission of the INEC counsel.
According to them, the lawyers had agreed that going forward, certain adjustments should be made to timeline for all parties previously agreed upon.
Counsel to Jime and the APC, Kehinde Eleja, also confirmed the understanding between the parties.
Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Adebola Olusiyi, SAN, in his ruling, adjourned to August 15,2019, for INEC to open its defense.
He said, “We are satisfied with adjustment of time to allow the tribunal sufficient time to prepare its decision. The application for extension of time is hereby granted.
“This petition is adjourned to August 15, 2019, to enable the 1st respondent open defence.”