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Three-man tribunal contravenes Electoral Act, LP candidate tells CJ 

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The Labour Party chairmanship candidate for Oredo Local Government Area in the September 2, Local Government Election in Edo State, Daniel Ero, has urged the Chief Judge of the state, D.I Okungbowa, to set up a five-man  Election Tribunal against the three-man panel that was inaugurated.

He noted that setting up a three-man tribunal contravened the electoral act, noting that the tribunal should have a chairman and four other members as stipulated by law.

In a letter made available to journalists on Sunday addressed to Justice D. I. Okungbowa, dated September 15, 2023, and titled “Re: Urgent Request for the Immediate Establishment of a Local Government Election Tribunal in Line with Section 78 of the Edo State Local Government Election Law, 2012”, the LP candidate appreciated the Chief Judge for constituting the tribunal.

The letter reads in part, “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 Edo State Local Government Election, a press release ostensibly dated August 31, 2023, and signed 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 on Sapele Road, notifying the public of the existence of the Tribunal. 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.”

Ero noted that the tribunal as composed deviates from the mandatory provisions of Section 78(3) & (4) of the Edo State Local Government Law, 2012 (as amended), which unequivocally stipulate that “the tribunal shall be a judicial tribunal of five members, including the chairman and four other members.

“The Chairman of the tribunal shall also 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.”

Ero said the purported composition of the tribunal raises serious concerns about the validity and legality of any decisions or judgments that may be reached.