Again, Oredo LP chairmanship candidate petitions Edo CJ

..insists election tribunal panel should be 5, not 3 members

The Labour Party, LP, chairmanship candidate for Oredo LGA in September 2, local government election in Edo State, Daniel Ero, has again petitioned the Chief Judge of the state, asking him to comply with provisions of Edo Electoral Law in setting up a Local Government Election Tribunal.

The CJ had in a letter dated September 14, 2023, following an earlier petition by Ero, approved the constitution of a tribunal comprising three persons, Justice A. Momodu as chairman, and D. Fiade-Isirame and F. Oghoator, as members.

Daniel Ero

But in a fresh letter addressed to Chief Judge, dated September 15, 2023, the LP chairmanship candidate noted that the tribunal as approved by the Chief Judge comprises only three members, which is contrary to the mandatory provisions of Section 78(3) & (4) of the Edo State Local Government Law, 2012 (as amended), which stipulates five members.

The letter reads: “My Lord, I am gratified to note that within 24 hours of my letter, which requested the immediate establishment of the Local Government Election Tribunal in response to the numerous concerns and grievances arising from the recently concluded Edo State Local Government Election, a press release ostensibly dated August 31, 2023, and by the Chief Registrar of the Edo State High Court, Pastor Benson Osawaru, was posted on the Edo State Judiciary’s website on September 14, 2023, indicating the establishment of the Local Government Election Tribunal. “Additionally, banners have now been hoisted at the gate of the High Court Complex, Sapele Road, Edo State, notifying the public of the existence of the Tribunal.

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“I appreciate Your Lordship for the prompt response in this regard.

“May I, however, respectfully bring to Your Lordship’s attention to a matter of utmost importance that warrants immediate consideration.

“I have been informed by my lawyers that the press release in question, which may have been hastily drafted, contains a significant oversight.

“Specifically, it asserts that the Chief Judge has approved the composition of a Local Government Election Tribunal comprising three members only.

“A Local Government Election Tribunal composed of three members deviates from the mandatory provisions of Section 78(3) & (4) of the Edo State Local Government Law, 2012 (as amended), which unequivocally stipulate as follows:

“(3) The tribunal shall be a judicial tribunal of five members, including the Chairman and four other members.

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“(4) The Chairman shall be a serving High Court Judge and four other members shall be appointed from judicial officials who shall not be below the rank of Chief Magistrate. (underlining and bold letters are mine for emphasis.)”

“The purported composition of the Tribunal with only three members is clearly in direct contravention of the law, and raises serious concerns about the validity and legality of any decisions or judgments that may be reached by the Tribunal as presently constituted.

“As My Lord is no doubt aware, it is a fundamental rule of our constitutional and administrative legal framework that where a legislation lays down a procedure for doing a thing, there should be no other method of doing it, and the failure to follow the laid down procedure renders any act purportedly done under that statute null and void.

“It is, therefore, imperative that we uphold the rule of law and ensure strict adherence to the provisions of the Edo State Local Government Election Law, 2012 (as amended).

“It is in light of the foregoing that I am constrained to once again respectfully request that Your Lordship takes immediate steps to remedy this situation by reconstituting the Local Government Election Tribunal with the full complement of five members, as required by law.

“This step is crucial not only to safeguard the integrity and legitimacy of the Tribunal’s proceedings but also to demonstrate the commitment of the Edo State Judiciary to upholding the principles of justice, fairness, and the rule of law,” he said.

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