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Why Enugu governor, Mbah couldn’t appear before Tribunal – PDP lead counsel clarifies

By Andrew Ochei

Anthony Ani, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and the lead counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Enugu State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal has given clarification on why the State governor, Peter Mbah did not appear before the tribunal sitting in Enugu today.

Ani, a former Enugu State Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, told journalists after the Tribunal sitting on Friday that the petitioner did not comply with the provisions of the law while serving the subpoena.

He said the governor was ready to appear had the petitioners done the right thing.

According to Ani, “The petitioner has not complied with the mandatory provisions of the law; the default provision, respecting election petitions, is the Federal High Court Rules, which is very clear on service of subpoena.

“Now when you serve a subpoena, that subpoena should have been filed alongside the originating process, that is the petition.

“And in filing it, you have to comply with the relevant order; I think Order 3, Rule 4 of the Federal High Court Rules and serve the witness you are subpoenaing with what we call Form 1A; that form 1A, willl mandate the witness to file witness deposition on oath, and then you also serve the witness you are expecting with your pleadings.

“In this case, they should have served the governor with the petition, to enable the Governor file a deposition on oath, and then come to court to adopt that deposition.

“So you don’t serve just ordinary paper, that’s what the Court of Appeal called it, you don’t just serve only the subpoena without the accompanying documents. If they had complied with the provisions of the rules of court, I’m sure the governor must have been here;

“There is no issue of immunity here; if they had done the proper thing, the governor would have been here, but they didn’t comply with the law, if you comply we will comply, if you don’t, we won’t comply.”

Meanwhile, the Tribunal led by Justice K. M. Akano adjourned the case to June 24, 2023, for the 1st Respondent (the Independent National Electoral Commission) to open its defence.

Recall that the Tribunal had on Thursday,  ordered a substituted service  of a subpoena on Mbah through his lawyer.

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