Not for the first time, a team of lawyers representing the petitioners against the September 2016 election in Edo State – the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu – have been told off by the Chairman of the Edo State Election Petition Tribunal, Justice A.T. Badamasi.
Justice Badamasi, sitting at the Edo High Court in Benin City on Friday, scolded the lawyers for what he described as “wrong behaviour”.
This was at the resumed hearing of the tribunal set up to listen to the petition against the All Progressives Congress (APC), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and Governor Godwin Obaseki where Counsels to the PDP and Pastor Ize-Iyamu were heard whispering answers to witnesses, who were under cross-examination, for questions directed at them by the respondents’ counsels.
Justice Badamasi emphatically stated that although it would not be the first time he would warn the lawyers against such conduct, it would serve as the last time he would do so.
The petitioners’ Counsels and PDP Chieftains sat near the witness dock had continually suggested and provided answers to their witnesses under cross-examination in other to avoid pitfalls that could hamper the success of their petition.
Observing this trend, Justice Badamasi had earlier cautioned against such unprofessional and unethical conduct on Tuesday and Wednesday, but its reoccurrence on Thursday and Friday visited a tongue-lashing on the blameworthy parties.
Telling off the guilty counsels, Justice Badamasi said it was “very wrong, very wrong for somebody from the bar and outside the bar to assist witnesses with answers to questions during cross examination”.
Meanwhile, the lead counsel to the petitioners, Roland Otaru (SAN) apologized to the court saying, “It will not repeat itself again”.