Monday, February 6, 2017 4:59 pm
The Edo state governorship election petition tribunal has reserved February 8, 2017, for ruling on whether witnesses called through a sobpoena can testify on the substantive petition brought before it.
Recall that the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, are challenging the declaration of Godwin Obaseki as winner of the September 28, 2016 gubernatorial election by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Chairman of the three-man tribunal, Hon. Justice Ahmed Badamasi, announced this on Monday, following objections raised by Counsel to the Respondents (All Progressives Congress and Godwin Obaseki), against the decision of the petitioners to call witnesses under sobpoena.
Counsel to the Petitioners, Kehinde Eleja (SAN), had sequel to the cross-examination of three witnesses by the Respondents, called in one Oviosun Enas, whom he said had been sobpoenaed to testify as a witness in the case.
But Counsel to INEC and Obaseki, Onyechi Ikpeazu and Ken Mozia, respectively, objected to the call, stating that witnesses who were not parties to the case and whose depositions had not been submitted along with the substantive petition to the tribunal before the pre-hearing session could not be allowed to testify.
Their submissions were also supported by counsel to the APC, Adeniyi Akintola, who argued that the said witness, being a member of a political party not included in the main petition, could not testify at the tribunal.
But Eleja who prayed the tribunal to considered the matter, explained that the tribunal had held that objections would be taken during the final address and treated without a loss to the respondents, an argument Ikpeazu said appeared “attractive” but “profoundly dangerous.”
Another Counsel to the Petitioners, Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), had also noted that it would be unfair to continue to call other witnesses whose depositions were submitted with the main petition because the petitioners had arranged their case in a manner that would be effective.
His argument was however objected to by Counsel to the respondents, who also urged the tribunal to deduct the time allotted to the petitioners to present witnesses, if they choose to discontinue with proceedings until Wednesday, adding that an adjournment could not be without consequences on the petitioners.
Badamasi therefore adjourned to Tuesday for continuation of hearing and to enable the petitioners call their witnesses.