Delta Guber Tribunal: My witness has turned hostile, Ogboru cries

Posted by Osteen Oyibode, Asaba | 1 September 2015 | 4,030 times

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In a dramatic twist, the Labour Party (LP) and its governorship candidate in the April 11 governorship election in Delta State, Chief Great Ogboru, yesterday, cried out in court that his star witness has suddenly turned hostile.

The Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba, the state capital had subpoenaed the Independent National Electoral Commission Head of Department, General Administration and Procurement, in Asaba head office, Mr. Felix Enabor, to give evidence in the petition filed by Ogboru and LP, over the conduct of the governorship election in the state.

Soon after Enabor mounted the witness box and his written statement and other documents admitted by the tribunal as exhibit, rather than commence with the examination of the witness, Ogboru’s counsel, Mr. Robert Emukpoeruo, raised the alarm by way of a motion urging  the tribunal to label Enabor as a  hostile witness.

He contended that some paragraphs in the witness deposition were “animus”, and injurious to the petitioners.

But in a swift reaction, the counsels to Governor Okowa, PDP and INEC, Dr. Alex Izyion (SAN), Mr. Timothy Kehinde (SAN), and Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) respectively vehemently opposed the motion.

Izyon described the move as “very basal and unknown to law”, arguing that section 230 of the Evidence Act, has not been complied with.

He pointed out the request to label the witness as hostile and animus    is not automatic as it cannot be invoked.

He said, “the petitioner is the one providing the witness upon an application, it is his witness, were the procedure is by deposition, particularly if the witness is adverse to his cases particularly to election petition, they  have  taken a gamble, they ether swim or sink with the witness  they have called”.

He said the petitioners are the ones that called the witness, and he obeyed the subpoena, adding that there was no evidence of hostility with the witness as there was nothing to show such, as he has the mandate of the petitioner to come and testify.

He further explained that the issues of the LP Chairman facing criminal prosecution over stolen INEC materials should  not  a hidden thing, adding that the issue of hostile witness was not new to jurisprudence, as there  are no enough  grounds  to treat witness from INEC as hostile.

He also argued that Enabor has not made another statement that contradicts the one he deposed to in court that will amount to contradiction, hence there was no need to brand him a hostile witness.

The “tribunal is guided by law not by sentiment, we are bound by the rules of the procedure, the witness has adopted, so they are bound by it.”

In his submission, counsel to PDP, Mr. Timothy Kehinde (SAN), averred that “we shall be opposing this application to treat the witness as hostile. The condition precedent for the tribunal to exercise such decision has not been met.

According to him, “ a party producing a witness is under obligation  not to be allowed to impugn  on the credibility of his witness by general conduct  or behaviour”, adding: “There is no doubt  that the witness is at the command of the tribunal , whose sole duty it is to help  the tribunal to arrive at a just  decision  and not under any obligation  to give evidence  that is favorable  to the parties except  to say  the truth.”

Kehinde posited that the position of the petitioner that they do not have impute in the evidence of the witness, according to him, is nothing but suggestive of the fact that they have no opportunity  to  course  the witness  to commit perjury.

He pointed out that the fact the witness is not giving the petitioner a favorable evidence does not mean that he is hostile, adding that , before the application can be granted, there must be evidence that a contrary statement  has been  made by the witness and he must be asked whether he has made such statement  for the records.

Kehinde  further pointed out that , all the deposition in the witness statement on oath are relevant  in the case  and explains everything the witness knows about the  matter,  nothing in the statement  to declare him hostile, as that ends  his  duty to the party that called  him , adding that the next  move  is for  the respondents  to cross examine him.

Supporting his arguments with section 51(1) of the Evidence Act, Kehinde stated that there shall  be no oral examination  of the witness  by the petitioner  but  just to tender  the document he has listed on oath.

He said granting the application would be tantamount to helping the petitioner to have an impute  into the evidence of the witness  and that will mean asking the judge to descend  from his hallowed    chambers  as unbiased  umpire in the case.

Arguing in the same vein, counsel to INEC  Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), opposed the application saying it has no basis as provided under section 230 of the  evidence act , that the petitioner relied upon  for  the application , hence  the tribunal  has no facts before  it upon which  to grant the application.

After listening to the arguments of all the counsels, Justice Gunmi has reserved ruling for 1st September, 2015

•Photo shows Chief Great Ogboru

Source: News Express

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