Benue to establish community-based centres for drug addicts
Tribunal admits documents summoning INEC in election petition against Ortom
BENUE State Governor Samuel Ortom has announced plans by his administration to establish community- based treatment centres for drug addicts. Governor Ortom dropped this indication yesterday Monday while declaring open a stakeholders’ workshop on capacity building for treatment practitioners.
The state government in collaboration organized the workshop with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, anchored by the office of wife of the Governor. Meanwhile, the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Makurdi, presided over by Justice Elizabeth Karatu has admitted documents summoning Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the eligibility of Governor Samuel Ortom to contest the last governorship election under the platform of All Progressive Congress APC.
He explained that the administration would partner with civil society organizations to begin the process of helping to identify suitable facilities where such centers could be located with a view to equipping them preparatory to commencing work. Governor Ortom stated that the state would also collaborate with the UNODC to source for the personnel that would work in the centres. He listed the duties of such personnel to include provision of services such as sensitization of members of the public and building of necessary linkages with other organizations in order to guarantee accessibility to treatment of drug related cases.
The Governor who noted that the desire to offer support for drug patients motivated his wife to establish the Oracle Business Foundation Limited so as to raise the quality of their lives and other impoverished persons and to seek partnership with the United Nations on his assumption of duty as Governor to enhance the work. He promised to do everything possible to ensure the success of the program and solicited the support of individuals and organizations.
Wife of the Governor, Mrs. Eunice Ortom, represented by Commissioner of Women Affairs, Mrs. Mwuese Mnyim, expressed hope that the collaboration would help in eliminating drug abuse in the state and urged participants to take the workshop seriously so as actualize set goals. Also speaking, Project Coordinator of UNODC in the state, Mr. Emmanuel Gbagyo, stated that the fight against drug abuse was a collective one, which he said, should be taken seriously, pointing out that one of the objectives of the workshop was to improve the technical skills and capacity of treatment practitioners.
The ruling was done after both Ortom’s lead counsel, Adeniyi Akinola SAN, that of the second respondent, APC Sebastine Hon, as well as Counsel to INEC, Anthony Ijoho, SAN vehemently argued with citing many authorities to squash the document from being accepted in evidence by the tribunal. The contentious documents are; report of the monitoring team of PDP primaries and report of monitoring team of APC gubernatorial primary in Benue state as presented by INEC witness subpoenaed by the petitioner. According to the ruling, read by Justice (Mrs.) Catherine Ogunsanya maintained that the two documents provided by INEC witness who was subpoenaed by the petitioners’ counsel were relevant to the case.
Justice Ogunsanya explained that the argument of the first and second respondents Counsels urging the tribunal not to admit as evidence the documents was no feasible as the panel was mindful of its earlier ruling and as such admitted the documents. In his argument, counsel to the first respondent, Mr. Adeniyi Akintola had objected to the admissibility of the two documents saying there were not relevant and not pleaded in the petition and as such defective and should be rejected by the tribunal.
Furthering his argument, Akintola SAN said the documents are defective in all parts and at variance to what was pleaded and challenged the jurisdiction of the tribunal to examine pre election matters. Also in his view, counsel to second respondent, Mr. Sebastine Hon SAN who aligned himself with the first respondent counsel, argued that the two documents were not admissible in law citing several legal authorities to support his argument.
He stated that documents sought to be tendered were not the same with what was pleaded, adding that without proper pleading, documents submitted by witness does not make it admissible and urged the tribunal to reject the document. But counsel to the petitioner, Mrs. Joy Adeniyi SAN claimed that relevance was the major determinants of the documents sought and cited various authorities to support that the documents should be admitted by the tribunal even as he urged that the tribunal should not allow technicalities as raised by counsels to destroy the system of justice.