Parties in dispute over the September, 28, 2016, Edo State governorship election on Wednesday, closed their cases before the Edo State governorship Election Petition Tribunal just as the tribunal adjourned to April 3, 2016, for parties to adopt their final written addresses.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu are challenging the declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Godwin Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress (APC) winner of the election and have listed INEC, Obaseki and APC as first, second and third respondents respectively.
On Wednesday, the third respondent, the APC, called two additional witnesses, one Evan Omolaye Eleye and the Edo State chairman of the APC, Anselm Ojezua, to defend the victory handed its candidate, Godwin Obaseki.
Counsel to the petitioners, Emmanuel Okala (SAN), objected when counsel to the 3rd respondent, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) called Anselm Ojezua to the witness box, arguing that Ojezua could not give witness since he was not listed as one and that he was neither summoned nor subpoenaed to appear before the tribunal.
Counsel to the first and second respondents, Onyinye Anumonye and Wole Olanipekun (SAN) respectively, joined that of the third respondent, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), by arguing that it was not mandatory that a witness must be listed to give witness.
Olanipekun argued that the testimony of Ojezua had already been front-loaded to the tribunal and that front-loading was more important than listing as listing is contained in front-loading.
He stated that by so doing, Paragraph 12 (3) of the Electoral Act was being complied with and that issues cannot be solely considered based on Paragraph 10 (3) of the Electoral Act, but the Electoral Act as a whole.
In his ruling, chairman of the three-man tribunal, Justice Ahmed Badamasi declared that non-listing of a witness does not disqualify the witness from testifying, thereby clearing the path for Ojezua to give testimony.
Ojezua in his testimony affirmed that INEC conducted stakeholders’ meeting with political parties before the election and that INEC intimated the participating parties about the way and manner the election would be conducted.
Under cross examination, Ojezua was confronted with portion of his sworn evidence where he listed the INEC Training Manual as one of the standards used in conducting the election as opposed to his testimony where he only listed the 2015 INEC Guidelines and the 2016 Supplementary Guidelines as standards used in conducting the election.