Ogun Tribunal dismisses application, objection by PDP counsel

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The governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State, has dismissed the application filed by counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Gordy Uche, SAN, seeking for stand down after witnesses presented damning evidences against the petitioners.

Four witnesses, Oyegunle Suleiman from Sagamu, Mr. Ifetayo Ifede from Ikenne and Adelani Yemi from Abeokuta North, including an official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr. Omotilewa, had appeared before the panel to give evidence backed up by documents against PDP, alleging electoral infraction, ranging from manipulation, disruption of electoral process, as well as inducement through the preloaded ATM cards with inscription of Ladi Adebutu’s late mother.

All the witnesses convincingly proved and defended their statements with appropriate documents tendered to the tribunal and subsequently adopted and marked as exhibits.

Counsel to the petitioner, Gordy Uche, in his reaction, said he needed a stand down or an adjustment to enable him to prepare for his defence, describing the huge documents tendered by witnesses against the petitioners as an ‘ambush’, saying that he was handicapped.

He also objected to the tendering of the INEC reports as well as other documents submitted by the 3rd respondent, as he reiterated his earlier position of being given time to study the witnesses’ statements on OATH to enable him to prepare adequately.

In the same vein, he objected to the line of questioning of one of the witnesses, Mr. Oyegunle Suleiman, by counsel to the 3rd respondent, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo, that apart from leading the witness to adopt his statement on OATH, he cannot cross-examine his witness citing authorities to support his argument on the objection.

He, therefore, reserved his objection to the report presented by the INEC official and others to his final address.

Counsel to the 2nd respondent, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, talking on the point of law and procedure, said proceedings should continue even though the petitioner was just served the schedule.

He described it as strange for the petitioner to ask for a stand down to study the statement on the OATH of witnesses, adding that if such was granted, it would allow the identities of the witnesses to be compromised, describing it as unusual.

He explained that the idea of the coding of the identities of the witnesses was to prevent unnecessary attacks on the prospective witnesses, urging the court to refuse the application of stand down as requested by the petitioner.

On the line of questioning, Olanipekun said it is procedural and therefore the Tribunal is in charge.

Thereafter, the 3rd respondent (APC) applied to close its case.

The tribunal, in its ruling, said after listening to both the petitioners and respondents, it was of the opinion that the application for stand down as canvassed by the petitioner was lacking in merit, and therefore, dismissed it.

On the arguments on the line of questioning the panel overruled the objection being raised by the petitioner.

The tribunal, thereafter, adjourned the case till Monday, 4th September 2023
for adoption of written addresses by both parties, through soft copies.

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