Edo Guber: Tribunal Adjourns, To Enable Subpoenaed Witnesses to Testify

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The Election Petition Tribunal handling the Edo State governorship election in Benin City on Monday adjourned to enable the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Mr. Osagie Ize-Iyamu, to call in more witnesses after the respondents objected to calling of witnesses who are not members of the petitioners’ party to testify.

The Tribunal also reserved ruling to Wednesday to decide whether or not to allow subpoenaed witnesses to testify before it.

The PDP and its candidate, during proceedings, after calling two witnesses, PW- 69, 70, and 71 yesterday had called in Prosecution Witness (PW 72), Oviosun Enas, of ward 12, Otuo, Owan East local government area of Edo State.

But Onyeachi Ikpeazu, Ken Mozia and Chief Adeniyi Akintola, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) and counsel to INEC, Obaseki and APC, respectively, objected to his being sworn-in as a witness.

They argued that since he was never a witness whose deposition statement on oath was among the over 1000 witnesses the petitioners front loaded in court, he could not be allowed to testify in the case.

Ikpeazu, Counsel to 1st Respondent (INEC) in his objection, said a witness whose deposition is not before the tribunal cannot be allowed to give oral evidence.

More so, he said the proposed witness is not a party to the petition; in other words, that he is not a member of the PDP, but another political party whose petition is not before the tribunal.

Ikpeazu’s objection was upheld by Counsel to 2nd Respondent (Obaseki), Ken Mozia, SAN who said the intended witness’ written testimony ought to have been filed pursuant to being subpoenaed.

According to him, “For these reasons as stated by my learned brother, Counsel to 1st Respondent and for the additional reason, the proposed witness has no interest in this proceeding being a member of a political party that did not question the outcome of the election, did not file any election petition and is consequently not concern in the matter,” adding that even if a subpoena has been issued, it should be adjudged wrongly issued and cannot be accepted.

Also in his objection, Counsel to APC, Adeniyi Akintola said there were an avalanche of witnesses who can come up, while the oral evidence of the proposed witness be stepped down as according to him, a person who is not party to the matter cannot be allowed to give witness.

Their objection was premised on an earlier plea by Counsel to 1st Petitioner (PDP), Kehinde Elena, SAN, that he could not proceed with the trial as his witnesses in court were all on subpoena.

Elena argued that the petitioners had in their statement of claims indicated that they could call witnesses including subpoenaed witnesses to testify in the case.

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