The counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party at the Enugu State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, Barr Anthony Anih, told newsmen on Friday that the state governor, Mr Peter Mbah, did not appear before the court as he was summoned yesterday because the process of summoning people to appear in court was not followed.
He said it was not a matter of immunity, and asked the petitioners to follow the procedure before Mbah could appear.
In his words, “The petitioner has not complied with the rules of the High Court, which governs the tribunal. The soepena ought to be filed alongside the originating summons. They should have served the governor with the petition. You don’t serve the governor with papers. Let them go and comply with the rules; the governor will then appear. Immunity does not come in here.”
Mbah was ordered to appear before the tribunal sequel to an application filed by the Peoples Redemption Party’s governorship candidate in the 2023 general election, Mr Chris Agu.
Agu is seeking the tribunal to nullify Mbah’s guber victory during the March 18 governorship election. He petitioned that Mbah did not qualify to contest the election, having allegedly forged his National Youths Service Corps discharge certificate, and that Mbah did not win majority votes.
Ozor Alex Amujiogu, his counsel, during Friday’s proceedings, told the court to use its discretion to decide the matter. He said the soepena was from the court, hence the court should determine the implications of the governor’s failure to appear.
Amujiogu, in an interview with newsmen after the proceedings, said the matter was now between the tribunal and the governor.
Quoting him, “The court has the inherent power to determine the next line of action against him. The battle now is between the tribunal and Mbah. Our service was proper because the tribunal agreed yesterday that we serve him through his lawyer, which was done in court.
“He might be relying on immunity. The matter is still pending. It was adjourned to tomorrow. The matter was in court before he was sworn in. That is why the tribunal ordered his appearance. The tribunal can apply its power of sanction or use his non-appearance during the judgement, which is the last bus stop.”
Mbah had failed to appear during Thursday’s hearing, with the petitioner telling the panel that security operatives did not allow the order to be served on him. The court thereafter granted the petitioner’s request to serve Mbah through his lawyer.