Melaye v Adeyemi: COVID-19 Forces Tribunal to Adjourn for Two Weeks

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The Kogi State National Assembly Election Petition sitting in Abuja has adjourned to April 15 for the continuation of hearing.

Counsel to 1st respondent, INEC, Barr. Chris Esq had intimated the tribunal led by Justice Kashim Kaigama that based on President Buhari’s directive of two weeks curfew in Abuja and Lagos, there would be a total lockdown in Abuja from 11 pm on Monday.

Barr. Chris on that note called on the Panel to adjourn the matter for fourteen days due to the serious pandemic of Covid-19 virus, saying  “Health is wealth and our lives are precious to us and it’s only when we are alive that we can file a case and defend as well.”

Counsel to Senator Smart Adeyemi (2nd respondent), Dr Otitoju Dapo, said the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN has spoken over a week ago on shutting down courts, stressing now that resident Buhari statement has given back up to the CJN’s position, there is nothing that can be done than to adhere to lock down to avoid clashing with security agents or contracting the disease.

Dr Dapo subsequently supported the prayer of INEC counsel.

Counsel to 3rd respondent (APC), Barr. Abdulahi pleaded with the tribunal to adjourn the matter for 14 days based on the publication of the Lagos state government that the petitioner, Dino Melaye should be quarantine and go into self-isolation which he refused and has been present at the tribunal.

“The Petitioner (Dino Melaye) was present here four days last week and we are exposed here to the pandemic because of his presence; this is not safe for use in this court.

“I plead that the case is adjourned as a result of the presidential directive on the 29th March 2020 by 7 pm,” he said.

Counsel to the Petitioner, Barr. Jolaawo Esq said though they cannot oppose the respondent’s counsel prayer, but pleaded with the court not to deduct from the six days early given them (Petitioner) to prove their case when the case reopens.

He said he supported their prayer, “Because the issues on ground is a general phenomenon”.

After much deliberation on the part of the tribunal’s members, chairman of the panel, Justice Kashim Kaigama affirmed the prayer of the respondents and adjourned to 15th April 2020.

Mr Dino Melaye of PDP is challenging the November 30, 2019 rerun Senatorial election of Kogi West won by Senator Smart Adeyemi of APC.

Before the long adjournment, many of the Petitioner’s witnesses has countered the claims of over voting or violence during the election with one of them affirming that the election was free fair and actually won by Senator Adeyemi.

Credit: Vanguard

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