Benue: Tribunal dismisses Lawani’s application to amend petition

The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Makurdi on Friday dismissed application by former Deputy Governor of Benue, Mr Stephen Lawani seeking to amend his petition before it.

Nigeria's former Minister of Interior Affairs Abba Moro attends a media briefing in Abuja August 14, 2014. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Joined in the matter were the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

At the resumption of pre-hearing on Friday, Lawani’s counsel, Mr Sunday Okpare urged the tribunal to grant his client leave to amend his petition.

The application sought to amend Lawani’s petition, list of documents to be relied on and deemed same as properly filed and served.

However, counsel to Moro, Mr Kenneth Ikonne opposed the application, arguing that amending the petition would have adverse effect on his reply.

Ikonne submitted that time allowed for filing of election petition was 21 days and since that time had elapsed, the petitioner could not come before the tribunal to make substantial amendment to his petition to the extent of including new pleadings and reliefs.

Ikonne, therefore, urged the tribunal to dismiss the application.

Ruling on the application, Justice C. M. Ken-Eze agreed with the submissions of Ikonne that the petitioner’s proposed amendment would introduce substantial issues to the petition.

Ken-Eze held that the petitioner’s proposed amendment amounted to substantial departure from the petition, noting that in the original petition, four reliefs were sought while in the proposed amendment, five new reliefs were added.

The petitioner’s application is a total departure from the original petition and cannot be accommodated by the tribunal especially as issues have already been joined.

“The application is incompetent for introducing new things and is contrary to the provision of the Electoral Act and is hereby dismissed,” Ken-Eze said.

She then adjourned the matter to May 24, for pre-hearing.

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