The Edo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Benin City the Edo state capital, has granted Governor Godwin Obaseki leave to present subpoenaed witnesses in his defense to the petition of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate Osagie Ize-Iyamu challenging his election as Governor of Edo state.
Justice Ahmed Badamosi, while presenting his ruling at the resumed hearing of the defense to the petition on Saturday, ruled against the argument of the counsel to the PDP and its candidate that presenting subpoenaed witnesses amounts to amending the defense of the defendants mid-way into their case.
It is the third day of the sitting since Governor Obaseki opened his defense at the Edo state Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Benin City the Edo state capital.
At the resumed hearing the counsel to the PDP made an application to the effect that Mr Obaseki should not present subpoenaed witnesses as that would amount to the respondent changing its defense to a petition midway into the case.
The counsel of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the All Progressives Congress APC and Mr Obaseki, however argued that there is no law that prevents the second respondent from applying for anybody to be subpoenaed.
After arguing for over one hour, the tribunal took a 30-minute break and returned with a ruling that the testimonies of the subpoenaed witnesses be taken.
The testimonies of two witnesses who affirmed that accreditation and voting were done simultaneously were then taken.
Counsel to the PDP said “we were trying to prove that if you were not accredited as a voter you cannot vote and if you vote without accreditation, well it means that it is not proper under our electoral jurisprudence.
“The witness said in some cases they ticked only once, in some cases twice, in some cases none at all. And that is what we are saying. Our contention in this petition is provided in our petition before the tribunal”.
Meanwhile, counsel to the APC, Ken Mozia said: “the intention all along was for the witness to testify in opposition to the petitioner and in presentation of the case of the second respondent and that’s what the witness did and you can see that there was really no serious attempt at discrediting him under cross examination. To that extent we are very pleased with the performance of our witnesses.”
Subsequently, the tribunal adjourned sitting to February 27, 2017.