Edo election tribunal begins hearing Jan. 11, says no limit on number of witnesses

Agency Report

The Edo Election Petition Tribunal has said it will not limit parties on the number of witnesses to call in the petition filed by the PDP and its governorship candidate, Mr Osagie Ize-Iyamu. The Justice Ahmed Badamasi-led three-member tribunal, which made the submission in its pre-hearing report on Thursday, fixed Jan. 11 as commencement date for hearing the petition.

The party and Ize-Iyamu, in their petition, are challenging the declaration by INEC of Mr Godwin Obaseki of APC as winner of the Sept. 28 governorship election in the state. The petitioners had named INEC, Obaseki and 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. The tribunal in its report held that it had distilled five issues for determination with regards to Section 31(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 ( as amended) and paragraph 4(1) of the first schedule. The tribunal chairman, Justice Badamasi, who read the report, also said all preliminary objections and motions touching on the competence of the petition or some paragraphs thereof shall be taken alongside the main petition. On tendering of documents, the tribunal held that uncontested certified true copies of documents were to be tendered from the bar by each party at the commencement of its case. It added that such documents shall be accompanied by a schedule showing the markings which should be done in the office of the Secretary to the Tribunal in the presence of a representative of each party. The tribunal further held that contested documents “are to be admitted tentatively after taking objections and ruling over them and will be contained in the final judgment.’’ While it noted in its report that the tribunal would provide an interpreter, it further submitted that there would be no limit to the number of witnesses that could be presented by each party. “But the time frame allotted to each party must be respected,’’ it added. It said that during examination in chief, witnesses not tendering exhibit would be allotted five minutes and seven minutes to witnesses tendering exhibits. “ Twelve minutes are allotted for cross examination that translates to four minutes to each respondent subject to variations where necessary and three minutes for re-examination,’’ it said. The tribunal said it would sit through Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 1p.m. and between 3p.m. and 6p.m., except Saturdays when sitting had been scheduled for between 9a.m. and 3p.m. It, however, added that the content of final written addresses must not exceed 40 pages. Meanwhile, following alleged disobedience to the order granted the petitioners to examine the Sept. 28 election materials, Badamasi advised senior counsel on both sides to resolve any differences amicably. “ Since the INEC legal adviser has confirmed that scanning is on-gong, I advise senior counsel on both sides to be able to resolve any skirmishes amicably among yourselves,’’ he said. The petitioners’ counsel, Mr Roland Otaru, SAN, had drawn the tribunal’s attention to alleged frustration of his clients by the second and third respondents in scanning the materials. But the respondents’ counsel, Mr Ken Mozia and Adetunji Oyeyepo, denied this. NAN


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