Tribunal Dismisses INEC’s Application Questioning Qualification Of Atiku’s Lawyer

The Presidential election tribunal on Wednesday dismissed an application by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) seeking the disqualification of Atiku Abubakar’s counsel, Livinus Uzoukwu SAN. INEC’s counsel, Ustaz Yunus Usman, had argued that processes endorsed by Uzoukwu were invalid because he was not a lawyer known to the Nigerian Judiciary. However, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Mohammed Garba reasoned that the March 18 list of counsel and list of witnesses and other processes filed before the tribunal are valid and competently signed by a legal practitioner whose name is on the Supreme Court of Nigeria’s roll of legal practitioners. The tribunal noted that the petitioner’s counsel in his counter-affidavit proved beyond doubt that Uzoukwu is a legal practitioner. “I have noted the processes, it is glaring that there is a seal of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) with the name of Levi Uzoukwu SAN on them,” Justice Garba said. The petitioner stated that no other person that was called to Bar in 1982, bears the name Levinus Ifeanyichukwu Uzoukwu. It was also averred by Atiku that Uzoukwu and the INEC’S counsel, Yunus Usman were called together to the inner bar in 1999. However, the tribunal noted that INEC’S lawyer did not controvert the averments in the petitioner’s counter-affidavit. “Nothing was said of the motion by the first respondent in its reply on points of law files on May 6” the tribunal held. Meanwhile, the tribunal struck out the paragraphs in the petition wherein the petitioners alleged that there was an arrest, harassment, intimidation etc by the Nigerian Police. Justice Garba said it would be partial to decide the issue without hearing from those accused of the electoral violence. The tribunal agreed with the INEC lawyer that for such a serious allegation against the police they ought to have been joined as a party in the suit and not joining them makes it impossible to enter a decision on the allegations.


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