• Tony Igele

Stalemate in Edo Tribunal Over Witness Status

BENIN—SITTING at the Governorship Election Tribunal in Benin, Edo State, yesterday, suffered a setback over the status of a witness subpoenaed by the tribunal as counsel to the petitioners and the respondents engaged in a heated argument on whether he should be allowed to testify or not.

Argument began mid way at the tribunal when counsel to Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr Kehinde Eleja, SAN, ordered the court clerk to administer oath to a witness, Oviosun Enas, said to have been subpoenaed by the tribunal on January 17, 2017.

Responding, counsel to the 2nd respondent, Ken Mozia, SAN, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN and counsel to All Progressives Congress, APC, Niyi Akintola, SAN, opposed the request on grounds that the witness did not make any written deposition before the tribunal.

Godwin Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu

Meanwhile, the Justice Ahmed Badamsi three-man tribunal has reserved ruling to tomorrow and called for continuation of cross examination of PDP witnesses, who made depositions before the court but later adjourned till today for ruling when PDP’s counsel, Emmanuel Okola, SAN, insisted that the witness be allowed to testy in the interest of justice, more so that other witnesses were not available in court.

Counsel to PDP, Mr Eleja, who noted that they were only acting on the order of the tribunal to subpoena the witness, said that the tribunal could not go against its order, adding that the Court of Appeal would have been denied the evidence of the witness but that the tribunal has the prerogative to expunge the evidence of the witness at the end of the day if it does not find it useful.

On his part, Mr Mozia warned against the consequences of adjournment considering the time limit available to the petitioner to prove his case, adding that the said witness has no interest in the proceedings and evidence before the court.

Three witnesses had earlier testified before the tribunal and they alleged non-accreditation of voters and over voting in their wards and units.

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