Osun tribunal adjourns hearing on applications till next week

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BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO

Uba Group

Osun State Election Petitions Tribunal has fixed October 13 for the hearing of all preliminary motions arising from the petition filed by Governor Adegboyega Oyetola against the declaration of Ademola Adeleke as the Governor-elect.

At the sitting of the Tribunal on Tuesday, counsel for the petitioners, Lasun Sanusi (SAN), had told the court that his response to the pre-hearing form had been filed and issues had been formulated for the Tribunal to determine.

He told the court that counsel for both petitioners and respondents had agreed on the time for examination, cross examination and re-examination of witnesses, with a view to ensuring that the hearing is not unnecessarily prolonged.

He said, “We have both agreed that examination of witnesses should take five minutes, cross-examination 10 minutes and re-examination five minutes. For expert witnesses, examination is 15 minutes, cross examination 20 minute and re-examination is five minutes.”

He also told the tribunal that counsel for the two parties have agreed that the panel should sit on the matter between Monday and Friday, while all pieces of evidence to prove the case should be tendered by consent and incase of any objection, the ruling would be reserved till the final judgement stage.

Counsels to INEC, Paul Ananaba (SAN), PDP, Alex Izinyon (SAN) and Adeleke, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN) agreed to the scheduling of the hearing as listed by the petitioners’ counsel.

Respondents’ counsels, one after the other, also told the court that they had filed responses to pre-hearing forms served on them by the tribunal.

On the number of witnesses to be called, the petitioners’ counsel said he has more than enough quality witnesses and would be willing to forgo the calling of some of them as the case proceeds, with a view to saving the time of the tribunal.

Subsequently, counsel for the respondents informed the tribunal of his intention to move some preliminary applications which have just been filed, but the petitioners’ counsel said he should be allowed to respond to any application filed.

The petitioners’ counsel further said, “the era of frivolous ambush in election matters is gone. You cannot ambush me. We have five days to reply but we won’t exhaust that time. And even as contained in the Electoral Act, you do not have any right to object because your objections are all contained in the petition.
“I only see all these as efforts to prolong the matter, but we will reply properly,” Sanusi argued.

Following the agreement of counsel on both sides to return to court after all parties might have filed any application and reply, the tribunal Chairman, Justice Tertsea Kume adjourned till October 13, 2022 for the hearing of all applications.

Addressing journalists after the sitting, the petitioners’ counsel, Sanusi, said, “I am very pleased with the process. We are still in the pre-hearing stage and it takes 14 days. So, we are still within pre-hearing. They raised the objections and we even said their objections by law, they can’t raise it because the law says, put it in your reply to the petition. We are firmly on course.”

Also, counsel to INEC, Ananaba, said six motions were filed before the court which would be taking on the next date of adjournment when the hearing continues.

Ananaba said that until the motions were taken by the court before a date would be fixed for hearing.

He said the proceeding was still at the pre-hearing stage and believed justice would take its course at the end of the case.

Counsel to PDP, Izinyon, while addressing journalists, said the party wanted to bring the attention of the court to a judgement it obtained from a Federal High Court that voided the candidacy of the petitioner, Oyetola, but that the Tribunal ordered for a formal application.