Friday, February 24, 2017 3:32 pm
More witnesses on Friday testified for Edo Gov. Godwin Obaseki, before the Justice Ahmed Badamasi-led three-man Edo election tribunal and claimed that the Sept. 28. 2016, governorship election was freely and fairly conducted by INEC.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, are challenging the declaration by INEC of Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner of the election.
The petitioners listed INEC, Obaseki and the APC as first, second and third respondents, respectively.
Ize-Iyamu had since closed his case after calling 91 witnesses and tendered several pieces of evidence to prove his case of alleged irregularity in some polling units and polling wards in the 18 local government areas of the state.
INEC, however, as first respondent, did not call any witness, but only tendered pieces of evidence to prove that the governorship election was freely and fairly conducted and that its declaration of Obaseki was in order.
Obaseki, as second respondent, opened his defence on Thursday, calling 12 witnesses in defence of his case.
At the resumed hearing on Friday, led in evidence by Obaseki’s counsel, Mr Adetunji Oyeyepo, SAN, the witnesses, who gave oral evidence after adoption of their written statements, claimed that INEC conducted the said election in line with the electoral act.
The witnesses, who acted and testified as APC polling unit agents were : Joseph Ikponwmwonosa, Clement Obazee, Monday Efeloni, Bright Enodiana, Paul Aghiyisi and Osaretin Enaruna.
The witnesses in their oral evidence, who maintained that accreditation and voting took place simultaneously on Sept. 28, 2016, however, contradicted their oral evidence under cross examination.
Crossed examined by the petitioners’ counsel, Mr Roland Otaru, SAN, Ikponwonosa testified that his name was ticked both to the right and left in the voters’ register because he was duly accredited before he voted in the said election.
But the witness could not, however, proffer answers to why some names in the same voters’ register were ticked only to the right, meaning that they voted without being accredited.
Like other witnesses, Enaruna, who earlier testified that his name on the voters’ register was ticked twice to represent accreditation and voting, under cross- examination, could also not provide answers to the petitioner’s counsel’s question.
Cross-examined by Dr Kayode Olatoke, SAN, INEC’s counsel, Enaruna said that “it will be wrong for anybody to say that voters were not properly accredited before they voted in my polling unit.
“As APC agent, accreditation and voting were simultaneous and there was no complaint from any quarters,’’ he said.
But under cross-examination by Otaru, the witness could not answer why names ticked to the right on the voter register were never ticked to the left, to show they were accredited before they voted.
“Yes, this is my name on item 156 in the voters’ register, exhibit PO273. INEC official ticked it twice to show i was accredited before I voted.’’
Confronted further with same document, the witness said: “I agree that all tickings are to the right and not to the left.
“I agree that the ticking to the right was done by an INEC official,’’ the witness responded.
As at the time of filing this report, when the tribunal rose for a three-hour recess, only six witnesses had testified.(NAN)