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Published On: Sat, Aug 22nd, 2015

Tribunal Dismisses Okowa, PDP, INEC Bid to Stop O’tega to Bring Key Witnesses from INEC

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LAGOS AUGUST 22ND (URHOBOTODAY)-The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal holding in Asaba,Delta State has dismissed applications filed by Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to stop All Progressive Congress (APC) and its gubernatorial candidate, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor to bring key witnesses from INEC to tender relevant documents relating to the results of the April 11 governorship election held in the state.
Chairman of the three-man panel of tribunal, Justice Nasiru Gunmi over ruled the respondents application asking the Tribunal to stop APC from the subpoena, saying that, “a court must not take steps which should bring unjustified penalties to a party at the detriment of the other party”.

He further ruled that, “we are of the opinion that the fact that the documents were not pleaded and listed as documents to be relied on at the trial can only be properly discussed when the documents are presented and they are to be admitted by the witness subpoenaed.”
He said election petitions are sue-generis and they must be treated as such, as much as possible they should be heard on merits rather than rely on mere technicalities to deflect the course of justice.
“We have not seen any sufficient reason why the subpoena should be set aside”, Justice Gunmi insisted and subsequently dismissed the respondents’ applications.
According to him, “the subpoena was issued within the confines of the law, the tribunal has the right to issue a subpoena in the course of its judicial functions. It’s equally a truism that the Tribunal can set aside the subpoena if good course of this was made out, because the court has the powers to set aside its orders on well known conditions.”
Justice Gunmi noted that there is no basics for the setting aside of the subpoena by the Tribunal, adding that “the petitioners from the onset said they will issue subpoena in the INEC ICT department, as it was stated in the petition, during the pre-hearing section, that he will call seven witness and issue subpoena on two. The petitioners have all along stated that they would call witnesses through the issuing of subpoena”.
However, the APC and its gubernatorial candidate, Olorogun Emerhor also received knocks from the Tribunal for avoiding the financial burden entailed in the provision of security and documents from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ICT office as well as the subpoena.
The Tribunal Chairman, Justice Gunmi, relying on section 104/105 of the Evidence Act 2011, said, “a public document of this nature in focus, and to be admissible must be certified and it is incumbent on the applicant for such certification to pay the legal fees for certification”.
He also stated that by the provision of section 21 of Electoral Act 2010, any petitioner is required to give security which may become payable, on witness summons, there is no indication that security for the witness was deposited by the petitioner.
Justice Gunmi adjourned further hearing on the matter to Tuesday, 25th August 2015 for commencement of the substantive trial.
Meanwhile, the Tribunal delivers its ruling on Saturday, August 22 in a similar motion (not to allow more witnesses), brought against the Labour Party and its governorship candidate, Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru by Counsels to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, the PDP and INEC.

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