– How Johnson thrashed Nnodim
The last has not been heard of the technical arguments of the lawyers representing Engr.Ganiyu Johnson of the All Progressives Comgress, the defendant in the petition before the Tribunal set up to investigate cases on the National Assembly elections.
The arguments which demolished the petition and sank the dream of Nnodim to gain through the courts what he lost at the polls, were recently unveiled in an exclusive chat with the lead counsel to Johnson, Barrister Adekunle Ademiluyi.
The choice of Ademiluyi‘s Chambers, Echonews learnt, stirred controversy when it was suggested by the chairman of Ejigbo Local Council Development Area, Hon. Monsuru Bello Obe.
It was learnt that other loyalists believed that Ademiluyi, who ran against Johnson on the platform of ADP in the same election would be indisposed to do justice to the case.
Others argued that a case as crucial as this required a lawyer who had achieved the silk and could come to court with prestigious title of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
But Obe, who had followed Ademiluyi‘s brilliant handling of the defendants in the case of pepper women incident at the Ejigbo market, was sure that his choice was right.
These factors influenced Ademiluyi to set up a team which reviewed the claims made by Nnodim in his petition and drilled holes in them to make them useless before the tribunal.
For the optics, Ademiluyi‘s team was cosmopolitan. It included Maduka Onwukeme, Chijioke Aliche,James Oyebade,Miss Seun Ademiluyi and Ifechukwu Obijiofor.
In his petition filed on March 29, this year, Nnodim of the PDP alleged that:
• the election for the membership of the House of Representatives, Federal constituency,Oshodi/Isolo 2,which held on the 23rd day of February,2019 and the scheduled rerun of the election March 9, 2019 were inconclusive;
• The Election was invalid by reason of corrupt practices or non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral act,2010
The 1st Respondent was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast at the election
Nnodim alleged that the election was riddled with irregularities, malpractices and corrupt practices by agents of the APC in collaboration with officials of the INEC which rendered it invalid. These, he alleged, included inflation of the votes of Johnson and reduction of Nnodim‘s votes.
He also alleged that the votes were recorded for the Johnsonwhich was not earned and the votes earned by him were not recorded.
Therefore, he urged the court to set aside the declaration of Johnson as the winner and declare him as the winner.
On April 17, this year, Ademiluyi and his team fired back their legal salvo asking the tribunal to dismiss Nnodim‘s case because his allegations had no grounds to stand on.
Their words: ´The 1st and 3rd respondent’s on the other hand filed a reply to the Petition dated the 17th day of April, 2019 and a notice of Preliminary objection and urged the Honourable Tribunal to strike out and or dismiss the Petitioner’s Petition which did not disclose trial issues in its petition and that the grounds of the Petition did not comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act,2010 and its grounds were without specificity. The 1st and 3rd respondent backed this up with decided authorities and urged the Honourable Tribunal to strike out the petition.‘‘
Johnson‘s team further denied several paragraphs’ and put the Petitioners to the strictest proof thereof.
According to Ademiluyi, there were three issues to be determined in the case:
-Whether the Petition as a whole is supported by material particulars
-Whether or not the failure to specifically plead figures in the Election result of units or wards in which alleged error complained in an Election petition occurred is fatal; and
-Whether or not the Petitioners burden of proof has been discharged.
Citing various legal authorities to prove that Nnodim‘s petition failed these tests, Ademiluyi and his team made a brilliant show of their mastery of the law and demonstrated that the witness brought by Nnodim was not reliable as she told the court that she had no authority to identify malpractices.
The performance of the team on the basis of logic and authorities proved so effective to sway the judges to the their side and secured for Engr. Johnson his ticket.
Asked to react to indications that Nnodim and the PDP might appeal the judgment, Ademiluyi said ´´The Petitioners are free to approach the court of Appeal if dissatisfied with the decision of the Tribunal which is sound,articulate and touched every issue for determination set out and formulated by the Petitioners and respondent’s counsel’s at the pre hearing session.
The Petitioners did a shabby job and the result was the dismissal of the Petition.
Even if they go on appeal,they are only restricted to the issues determined at the Tribunal and cannot bring in new facts therefore will still result in futile action. “.