Tuesday, January 31, 2017 7:31 pm
The three-man Edo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Benin, has scuttled an attempt by a witness of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Mohammed Shaibu, to introduce fresh evidence outside his deposition in support of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s petition.
This is even as another witness, Shuaib Ogie, who was caught lying on oath, confessed that he claimed to reside in Agenebode out of security concerns, whereas, he resides in Okpella.
Mohammed who hailed from Okugbe-Okpella, Etsako East local government area of the State, who gave evidence as PW 13, had in his deposition, had stated that his complaints stemmed from issues of accreditation alone.
He however said, during cross-examination, “I voted in unit 9 and no voter was accredited via the voters’ register. I complained.”
He told the tribunal under cross examination that he would be surprised if his name was not on the voters’ register, insisting with confidence, “My name is there.”
“I agree that I must accredit before I vote and anyone who is not registered in a particular polling unit cannot vote there,” Mohammed stated.
But when shown the voters’ register of unit 9 where he claimed he voted, he expressed shock, as he was unable to find his name. The only Mohammed on the list in question belonged to one Mohammed Awosetu.
At this stage, the petitioners’ counsel, Denwigwe (SAN) defended his client’s witness, arguing that he was a registered voter who voted on the election day while asking the witness to tender his voters’ card in court as evidence.
But Counsel to Mr. Godwin Obaseki, Mr. Tunji Oyeyipo, however countered the attempt to ask the witness to tender his voters’ card as evidence of voting after agreeing that his name was not found in the voters’ register because it was a fresh case, and urged the tribunal to reject it since it was not pleaded in the witness deposition.
Consequently, while ruling on the objecction, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ahmed Badamasi, said it was trite law and an attempt to introduce fresh issues.
“He could not point his name in the voters’ register. The petitioner could have raised the issues in their pleadings. It is our view that your plea is lacking in merit and it is hereby refused,” the tribunal said.
Earlier while giving his testimony, another witness, Mr. Shuaib Igie, who admitted that he used different addresses and signature in his statement of oath because of security reasons, was exposed after he told the tribunal that he lived at Okpella whereas in his statement of oath, he claimed to live in Agenebode.
Ogie who confessed that he was not accredited before voting, said he was the PDP collation agent in Ward 5, Estako East local government area and that voting and accreditation took place at the same time, adding that accreditation did not take place in Unit 5 and 6 before the people were allowed to vote.
When he was reminded that he lied on oath in his statement, Shuaib said, “I do not reside in Agenebode. I live in Okpella. It was for security purposes. I was not accredited but I voted. That is my signature. I used different form EC8A and witness statement as a symbol for security purposes.”
Other witnesses testified from Estako East local government area, namely, Etame Oshiomah, Yusuf Seidu Abu and Ekpomiri Henry.
They told the tribunal that there was no accreditation in some polling units even as they also alleged over voting in the polling units.