Ondo state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu and his party, All Progressive Congress (APC) have objected to a prosecution witness, Mr Adedipe Adegboyaga, brought to testify in a case filed by Olusegun Abraham, challenging the emergence of Akeredolu as the governor of the state.
Mr Adedipe, who is the first prosecution witness, was called into the witness box at the commencement of trial on Tuesday, December 11, 2018, but just before the witness could start giving his evidence, he was interrupted by the counsel representing the APC, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), who insisted that the witness is unfit to give evidence before the court.
In his words, “I am objecting to the calling of this witness and the basis of our objection is that the witness is not listed.”
Relying on order 3 rule 3 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009, Fagbemi said: “The prosecution filed the writ of summons but this witness statement did not come attached to it.
“He is not a subpoenaed witness and there was no application to call additional witnesses.”
The learned silk reminded the court that the issue before it is a pre-election matter and “little things cannot be overlooked as it can spell fatal consequences.”
Akin Olujinmi(SAN) who is the lawyer representing the Ondo state governor, aligned himself with the submissions of the first defendant counsel.
He urged the court to rule out the witness.
Responding to the objections of the defendant, the plaintiff’s lawyer, Joash Amupitan (SAN) told the court that the witness “was issued a subpoena signed by the court on December 5, 2018. He is therefore competent within the bounds of the rules of this court to come and tell the truth.”
He, therefore, urged the court to hear the witness.
Reacting to the subpoena issued to the witness, Fagbemi, who is also representing the immediate past chairman of the APC, John Oyegun, argued that a subpoena ought not to be issued to persons with similar interests in a matter.
“You do not subpoena a witness who is already in your camp.
You only subpoena a witness who is not involved in the matter or is an adverse party.
In his deposition, the witness is a political agent to the plaintiff and does not qualify as a subpoenaed witness.
Mr Olujinmi, who aligned with himself with the submissions of the Fagbemi. He added that the actions of the plaintiff are deliberate to circumvent the rules of the court.
“I submit that this witness is an interested party in this suit and his interest merges into that of the plaintiff.”
They prayed the court to set aside the subpoena.
Nullifying the basis of the objection raised, Amupitan informed the court that the witness also belongs to the same political party with the first defendant (Akeredolu).
After listening to the submissions of all parties, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba discountenanced the objections raised by the defence on grounds that it lacked merit.
“I’m of the view that the objection to the calling of Adedipe Adegboyega as a witness lacks merit and is hereby dismissed”
“The requirement to file witness statement with the writ of summons is excused when the witness is in court with a subpoena.”
The case was adjourned to January 15, 2019, at the instance of the prosecution to enable all parties in the matter to meet and decide on documents to be tendered before the court.
Olusegun Abraham, who was the first runner-up in the party’s governorship primary in the state in 2016 suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/788/2016, seeking the nullification of the APC’s September 3, 2016 governorship primary, from which Akeredolu emerged as the party’s candidate, on the grounds that it was allegedly manipulated.
Parties involved in the suit are the APC, Akeredolu, former National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
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