BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO
The Osun State Election Petition Tribunal hearing the suit filed by Governor Adegboyega Oyetola against the declaration of Ademola Adeleke as Governor-elect will on Tuesday (today), receive a dossier of documentary evidence against the result declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
At the sitting of the tribunal on Monday, the Chairman Justice Tertsea Kume adjourned the case till Tuesday for the respondents to cross-check the list of documents to be tendered, with a view to making the tendering seamless for the petitioners.
Earlier at the hearing, counsel to Oyetola and APC, Chief Lateef Fagbemi, had informed the court of his intention to tender some documentary evidence to prove the alleged noncompliance with the Electoral Act by INEC.
Counsel to the PDP, Alex Izinyon, objected to the tendering of the documents on the ground that it ran afoul of Paragraph 3 of the pre-hearing report which indicated that list of witnesses should be filed 24 hours to the hearing.
He argued that since the petitioners have allegedly disobeyed the tribunal order, the petition should be dismissed as the consequences of the action.
Counsel to INEC, Paul Ananaba, also argued along the same line and said that the attempt to tender the documents violates the tribunal order and the petition should be dismissed.
Counsel to Adeleke, Onyeachi Ikpeazu, however toed a different line and argued that, since the petitioners were ready to tender the documents, they ought to have allowed the respondents to have access to it earlier and cross- check, so that the tendering would be seamless.
The petitioners’ Counsel, Fagbemi while responding, argued that paragraph 3 of the pre-hearing report being relied on by the PDP counsel was not in any way referring to documentary evidence, but calling of witnesses.
He said: “My Lord, there can only be consequences if we have violated the order of the court, but in this case, we have not breached any order. Paragraph 3 refers only to calling of witnesses, not documentary evidence.
“There is a difference between the witnesses and documentary evidence, but I’m used to my learned friend (referring to Iziyon), he is like that. The issue is, ‘you have to sing before you dance’. So, the issue of consequences does not arise at all because we have not violated anything.
“It is when we start calling witnesses without following your Lordships’ order that they can raise an issue. But I’m sure we are not going to breach the court order. Therefore, my Lord, we want to start by tendering documents,” Fagbemi stressed.
Subsequently, the tribunal Chairman asked the parties to discuss and agree on how the documents would be tendered that would make it seamless, to which the parties agreed.
Reporting back to the tribunal after a discussion among counsels for both parties, Fagbemi said they had agreed that the tribunal should rise and return on Tuesday to receive the documents from the bar after all parties must have looked at it.
Tribunal subsequently adjourned till Tuesday for the continuation of the hearing.
Responding to questions from journalists after the sitting, Fagbemi said: “As you have observed, the tribunal didn’t find anything wrong as to what we have done. However, it was agreed among counsels that we should streamline the documents we want to tender so that it will ease the procedure.
“We have prepared our own documents that is what we have given to them, they want to cross-check whether those documents tally and if they have any objection, it doesn’t stop the court from admitting those documents with liberty from whoever is not happy with it to do it by showing it at the end of the day with a separate written address which will chronicle or articulate his objection.”