Posted by Osteen Oyibode, Asaba | 5 September 2015 | 3,821 times
The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba was yesterday told that the counsels to the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its gubernatorial candidate, Olorogun Otega Emerhor are applying non-legal methods in the prosecution of their case.
Counsels to INEC, PDP and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Mr. Ken Mozie (SAN), Mr. Timothy Kehinde (SAN) and Animoye O. respectively, raised the alarm Friday at the resumed hearing of the matter that the petitioners’ counsel, Chief Thomson Okpokor (SAN), is trying to tender electoral documents through the back door.
Okopkor had sought the leave of the court to tender unit by unit election result sheets as contained in form EC8A through one of his witness, Mr. Oreh Ohimar, a lawyer and the Director of Administration and Operations in Otega’s campaign organisation.
In a swift reaction, Ken Mozie (SAN), a lead counsel to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, vehemently opposed the move, arguing that the documents sought to be tendered were not pleaded nor listed in the witness statement on oath.
He posited that the documents listed in the witness statement on oath are form EC8D and EC8E and not form EC8A and that any attempt to tender form EC8A would amount to subverting due process and obtaining justice through the back door.
He said: “We object to the admissibility of these documents, the foundational requirement were not met , in paragraph 14 of the witness statement, only form EC8D and form EC8E were pleaded, in their reply, it was not pleaded, no reference was made to the document sought to be tendered, listing the document will not cure it if it was not accommodated in their pleading. He urged the tribunal to reject it.”
In his submission, counsel to PDP, Timothy Kehinde (SAN) pointed out that it is an elementary principle of law to put the parties on notice and not by surprise, as the document sought to be tendered must be specifically pleaded.
He said an unleaded document cannot be admitted even when the document was mentioned in the witness statement, adding that in the instant cases, the document was not mentioned in the witness statement on oath neither was it pleaded.
INEC counsel, O. Anumonye while arguing in the same vein, pointed out that “the document sought to be tendered by APC and Otega were not refereed in the witness deposition,” adding that “having pleaded over voting by tendering forms EC8D and form EC8E, pleading form EC8A will constitute springing a surprise.
In a brief ruling, the chairman of the three-man panel of the tribunal , Justice Nasiru Gunmi, said there are enough facts to plead the election result, that the petitioners have listed the document as one of the document and result they will reply on, he therefore over ruled the objection and admitted it as exhibit.
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