Subpoeaned Witness: Edo Tribunal Overrules APC, Obaseki’s Objection

The Edo State Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Benin, Wednesday overruled the objections of counsel to the respondents, namely the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC), Godwin Obaseki and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to stop a witness subpoeaned by the Tribunal from testifying before it.
Chairman of the three-man Tribunal, Hon. Justice Ahmed Badamasi, while giving the ruling, said “subpoenaed witnesses are competent witnesses, especially when the respondents are put on noticed.”
Counsel to the respondents INEC, Obaseki and APC, Onyeachi Ikpeazor, Ken Mozia (SAN) and Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), respectively had opposed the petitioners’ counsel, Kehinde Eleja (SAN) order on the court clerk to administer oath on the witness, Oviosun Enas that was subpoenaed by the Tribunal, insisting that he did not make any written deposition before the Tribunal .
Justice Badamasi said the testimony of a subpoenaed witness does not amount to a change of the pleadings of the petitioner, adding that the petitioners had during the pre-trial stated that they could call on subpoenaed witnesses at any time.
According to Badamasi, the petitioners were in other to have invited subpeoned witnesses to testify in the petition before it on their behalf since they expressly gave the indication in their statement of claim, “moreso, when it is also contained in the Tribunal’s pre-trial order that subpenoed witnesses can be called to testify.’’
The Tribunal therefore ruled that subpoenaed witnesses were competent witnesses especially when the respondents were also put on notice.
“We will be seen to be blowing hot and cold if we refuse to allow the witness testimony. The respondents’ objection is therefore lacking in merit and is dismissed as incompetent,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the Tribunal has reserved ruling to Thursday to decide whether or not to allow ballot papers used for the September 28, 2016 governorship election in four local government council areas to be presented as exhibits.
While Ahmed Salman, INEC administrative officer, on Tuesday, produced bags of “Ghana must go’ in court containing used ballot papers for Egor, Akoko-Edo, Etsako-East and Estako-West, respectively on subpoena, the respondents’ counsel however, opposed their admisibility in court.
Onyinye Anunonye, Ken Mozia and Mr Rotimi Ogunesho, all SANs, and counsel to IINEC, Obaseki and APC, argued that the mode of its presentation in court ran foul of the electoral act.
They therefore urged the tribunal not to allow the ballot papers as exhibit and being recounted as being prayed by the petitioners.
On his part, counsel to the petitioners, Yusuf Ali, SAN, urged the tribunal to discountenance the respondents’ applications, describing them as interlopers and busy bodies, saying their applications were irrelevant and tendentious.

Author: News Editor

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