As tribunal declines Ize-Iyamu’s plea for extra time
Counsel to the petitioners – Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and her candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu in the September 28 governorship election, on Friday closed their cases without calling up to 10% of over 1000 witnesses they had earlier listed.
Of the millennial amount of witnesses they had earlier told the Justice Ahmed Badamasi-led three man Election Petition Tribunal they would be relying upon to prove their cases, they were only able to call 91 up to testify.
It must be noted that the petitioners, PDP and Ize-Iyamu’s case went all to pot with the burden of proof still hanging heavily on their neck.
Meanwhile, with the respondents now about to take the stage, observers have begun to theorise that the petitioners and their counsels made a proper mess of the case by challenging the declaration by the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) of Mr Godwin Obaseki as winner of the election with such an army of witnesses who did more damage than good to their cases.
The petitioners, knowing very well that they had only 14 days to prove their cases, stated in their petitions that they would call more than one thousand witnesses, and request for the recounting of used ballot papers used during the election in court to prove their cases.
The petitioners were however, only able to call 91 witnesses before the expiration of the allotted time.
Mr Ahmed Salman, INEC administrative officer, under subpoena, on Tuesday, produced a number of “Ghana must go” bags in court containing ballot papers used at Egor, Akoko-Edo, Etsakor-East and Etsakor-West Local Government Areas respectively.
Counting of the papers in all the four local government areas was still on when the counsel for Mr Godwin Obaseki, Ken Mozia, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), at 1 pm, drew the attention of the tribunal to the expiration of the 14 days allotted to the petitioners to prove their cases.
Consequently, counsel to the petitioners, Yusuf Ali (SAN) thereafter prayed the tribunal to allow for the continuation of counting since the process commenced within the 14-day period. This request could very well not have been made at all, as the respondents’ counsels vehemently objected to it.
The tribunal, after listening to arguments from the petitioners and respondents’ counsels, ruled against the application for continuation of counting and upheld the submissions of counsel to the respondents’ analytical arguments, which they laced copiously with cited cases that the 14-day period having expired; their case should be closed.