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Osun Tribunal to Sit on Saturday

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By Tunde Oyekola
Osun State Election Petition Tribunal on Friday resolved to sit on Saturday for further hearing to allow respondent counsel to examine the documents before giving their consent.
The tribunal took the decision when it became evident that the examination of the documents being tendered would take some time.
Counsel to the All Progressive Congress (APC), Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), warned the lead counsel of Senator Iyiola Omisore, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in the August 9 election in Osun State, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), against impugning on the professional integrity of his team.
This was in reaction to the consistent statement of Omisore’s counsel that Governor Rauf Aregbesola, APC and INEC legal teams were deliberately delaying the hearing of the petition filed against the election.
Uche, had at the continued hearing of the petition of Omisore and PDP against the re-election of Governor Aregbesola before the Justice Elizabeth Ikpejime-led tribunal sought to tender the register voters’ used in all the units and wards of the 17 local governments, including
the ones not being challenged in the petition.
Subsequently, Aregbesola counsel, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), wondered why the petitioners counsel was tendering all the voters’ registers, suggesting that the registers for only the units being challenged by the petitioners should be tendered to make the verification of the documents by the respondents faster.
This suggestion was taken by the tribunal and recommended same to the petitioners’ counsel.
But Uche insisted that he deliberately wanted to tender all the registers to prove his points, even though not all the polling units were being challenged.
He said since the respondents would raise their objections at the final addresses, they should just look at the document without verifying the contents.
Osinbajo, Falana and the INEC counsel, Mr Ayotunde Ogunleye in reaction, objected to the argument of the petitioners’ counsel, saying it was wrong to gag them from looking at the document and be stampeded just as they noted that it would take time to look at the documents.
Due to the long period that the verification would take, and based on the suggestion of Falana, the tribunal members retired into their chambers and when they returned, the respondents had only been able to verify the register for only six out of the 11 wards in Ayedaade local government. .

After the documents already verified were admitted, the petitioners’
counsel rose again to say that the respondents were only verifying the
document to deliberately slow down the proceedings.

In reaction to the statement, Osinbajo who had early waved the
utterances rose and cautioned Uche against making such statement.

He said: “My Lord, I take serious exception to my learned friend
consistently trying to impugn our professional integrity.

“He has been saying it consistently, but he should be cautioned,
because I can not stay here and allow him to tendered document without
looking at it”, he fumed.

However, after checking the documents, all the respondents counsel
stated their observation on the document and they reserved their
objections till the final address stage.

Among the observations were to the effect that some pages were missing
in the register, some have inscriptions with pencils on them without
endorsement, while some had certification date of ’14/10/2012

The Peoples Democratic Party {PDP} candidate, Senator  Iyiola  Omisore
had earlier called Samuel Oduntan, a statistician to present a data
analysis report  of election in all the 17 disputed local councils.

Omisore and the PDP are challenging  the result of the governorship
election won by governor Rauf Aregbesola on allegation that the
election was riddled with fraud, and malpractices in 1,847 polling
units across the disputed local councils.

The expert witness had hectic time as counsel to the first petitioner,
Femi Falana {SAN},Professor Yemi Osinbajo {SAN} representing All
Progressives Congress {APC}  and counsel to the Independent National
Electoral Commission {INEC, Ayotunde Ogunleye objected to the
admission of the expert report by the tribunal because it was a
computer generated report.

However,the lead counsel to the petitioner ,Chris Uche {SAN} urged the
panel to admit the document saying that the document was made from its
original copy.

The chairman of the tribunal, Justice Elizabeth Ikpejime accepted the
document in evidence as exhibit but the panel reserved ruling on its
admissibility to the final judgement stage.

Being cross-examined by Falana, the witness, told the panel that he
was not aware that the petitioner was  not challenging the result of
the election in all the polling units in the disputed local councils.

But Falana pointed  out  some wards and polling units  in the local
councils being disputed where the petitioner did not challenge the
result of the election.

Besides,the Senior Advocate of Nigeria also argued that an election
manual prepared by the  Director of Electoral  Institute,Professor
Abubakar  Momoh which form  part of the expert report could not be
relied upon to generate report  because according to him, Momoh  was
neither the chairman of INEC nor the document  prepared by the
electoral commission.

Osinbajo  drew the attention of the panel and the witness to some
alleged errors inherent in the report to counter the position of the
witness on the matter.

PW13,Wasiu Oyedokun  who was a former councillor  and served as ward
supervisor during the election at ward 4 in Ifelodun local council
alleged that two of his children were disallowed from voting during
the election adding that he also  ran away from collation centre in
his area when some people
threatened to pour acid on him.

Although he admitted that he voted  despite alleged  pervading
problems in the area,he said some opposition members were prevented
from exercising their voting right.

His testimony was however countered by Falana who observed that the
oral testimony by the witness did not reflect in his written
statement.

The witness told the panel that a new voting  unit was created without
the knowledge of his party adding that an agent appointed by his party
could not effectively monitor how the election went in two areas.

The witness was asked to sign his signature specimen several times on
paper to prove its authenticity  and this was admitted in evidence as
exhibit by the tribunal

Another witness,Adebisi Gbolagade, who served as collation agent  at
ward 6 Ifelodun local council claimed he voted at ward 6 in the
council but alleged that INEC officials did not check his name on the
voters register.

He said the election result was being challenged in the area because
according to him,he witnessed alleged fraud that went on during the
poll.

The witness alleged some alteration on the result of the election in
the area and also denied knowing one Adejumo Bakare  said to be the
polling agent in his area adding that it was one Fasola Kingibe who
was the authentic party agent.

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