Edo poll: INEC closes defence without calling witnesses

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By Gabriel Enogholase

BENIN—INDEP-ENDENT National Electoral Commission, INEC, has closed its defence in the petition by Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, at the Edo State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal challenging the declaration of Godwin Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as the winner of the September 28, 2016 election without calling any witness.

At the  tribunal’s resumed sitting in Benin, yesterday, counsel to INEC, Onyinye Anumonye, however, tendered no fewer than  200 copies of the ward results (Form EC8B) for the remaining 17 local government areas, all of which were admitted in evidence and marked as exhibits.

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Anumonye had  also sought to tender a supplement to the 2015 guidelines and regulation for the conduct of the election but counsel to the petitioners, Roland Otaru, SAN,  objected to the admissibility of the document, which he said ought  to have been tendered by a witness in the witness box.

But the Chairman of the three-man panel, Justice Ahmed Badamasi, admitted it in evidence and marked the certified true copy of the document as exhibit 1R022.

INEC had used five out of the 10 days allotted to it by the tribunal to open its defence and had been expected to call its witnesses.

But its counsel said that it would amount to a waste of the tribunal’s time to call witnesses to support the case of the first respondent.

Anumonye explained that, having reviewed the evidence presented thus far, it was the position of the first respondent that it had sufficiently established a defence to the petition, through the cross-examination of the petitioners’ witnesses whose statements under cross-examination supported its case and, particularly, the documents tendered as exhibits.

“We, therefore, consider it an unnecessary waste of the tribunal’s precious time to call witnesses who would merely repeat evidences that it had already elicited under cross-examination,” he added.

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