Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State was absent from the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal on Friday, despite being served a subpoena through his lawyer. The tribunal had ordered the substituted service of the subpoena after an application by the People’s Redemption Party (PRP). The PRP counsel informed the tribunal that Mbah did not honor the summons, suggesting that he may have claimed immunity as a reason for his absence. As it was the last day for the PRP to present its case, the counsel was forced to close their case due to the governor’s non-appearance.
When asked about the next course of action, the PRP counsel stated that it was now up to the tribunal to decide how to proceed regarding the governor’s refusal or inability to appear. Potential options included the tribunal exercising its power of sanctions or delivering a judgment. The lead counsel for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) later stated that the petitioners had not complied with the necessary legal provisions while serving the subpoena. According to him, the subpoena should have been filed alongside the petition and accompanied by relevant documents, such as a deposition on oath. The counsel argued that if proper compliance had been followed, the governor would have been present.
The Tribunal, presided over by Justice K. M. Akano, adjourned the case to June 24, 2023, to allow the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the first respondent, to present its defense.