Wednesday, February 8, 2017 6:25 pm
The Edo Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Benin, on Wednesday held that all subpoenaed witnesses could testify before it for the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) and Osagie Ize-Iyamu, its candidate in the Sept. 28, governorship election.
Justice Ahmed Badamasi, Chairman of the three-member tribunal, who read the ruling, said that the petitioners were in other to have invited subpoenaed witnesses to testify in the petition before the tribunal.
The petitioners are challenging the declaration by the Independent National Election Commission (INEC), Mr Godwin Obaseki as winner of the election.
The petitioners named the INEC, Obaseki and the APC as first, second and third respondents respectively in the petition.
INEC had declared Obaseki winner of the Edo governorship election after he polled 319,483 votes to defeat Ize-Iyamu, his closest rival, who scored 250,000 votes.
At the resumed hearing on Monday, all respondents’ counsel objected to the petitioners’ counsel, Mr Kehinde Eleja, (SAN), request to allow one Mr Oviosu Enas, subpoenaed by the tribunal to testify in the case.
Delivering its ruling, the tribunal held that the petitioners were in order to have called subpoenaed witnesses to testify on their behalf, since they expressly gave the indication in their statement of claim.
Moreso “when it is also contained in the tribunal’s pre-trial order that subpoenaed witnesses can be called to testify, ’’ Badamasi said.
The tribunal chairman ruled that subpoenaed witnesses were competent witnesses especially when the respondents were also put on notice.
“ We will be seen to be blowing hot and cold if we refuse to allow the witness testimony. The respondents’ objection is therefore lacking in merit and is dismissed as incompetent,’’ he ruled.
Meanwhile, the tribunal has reserved ruling till Thursday to decide whether or not to allow ballot papers used for the Sept. 28 governorship election in four local government council areas to be presented as exhibits.
While Mr Ahmed Salman, INEC administrative officer, on Tuesday, produced bags of “Ghana must go’ in court containing used ballot papers for Egor, Akoko-Edo, Etsako-East and Estako-West, respectively on subpoena, the respondents, however, opposed their admissibility in court.
Mr Onyinye Anunonye, Mr Ken Mozia and Mr Rotimi Ogunesho, both SANs, and counsel to IINEC, Obaseki and APC respectively, argued that the mode of its presentation in court ran foul of the electoral act.
They urged the tribunal not to admit the ballot papers as exhibit and recounted as prayed by the petitioners.
But Mr Yusuf Ali, SAN, and counsel to the petitioners, urged the tribunal to discountenance the respondents’ applications, describing them as interlopers and busy bodies, saying their applications were irrelevant and tendentious.(NAN)