…To rule on admissibility on Wednesday
Osun State Election Petition Tribunal on Tuesday vacated its earlier order which admitted the evidence brought to court by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to defend the declaration of Ademola Adeleke as the Governor of the state.
This followed the arguments raised by counsel for Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola and the All Progressives Congress, APC, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) that the tendering of the documents by INEC and its admission was a serious fundamental procedural irregularity.
At the resumed hearing of the petition, counsel for INEC, Professor Paul Ananaba, SAN, told the tribunal that he was ready to present his case to defend the Adeleke’s declaration, saying, he had filed four schedules containing the list of witnesses to be called and list of documents to be tendered.
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Oyetola’s counsel, Prince Fagbemi SAN said he has seen the schedules containing the EC8A, EC8B, EC8C, EC8D and EC8E and confirmed that they have jointly inspected the documents, saying he had no objection to the tendering of the said schedules.
He also said as for the schedule with respect to the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) machine, the INEC counsel has not shown the Petitioners’ counsel any of it, hence it should not be allowed to form part of the evidence to be tendered before the tribunal.
While ruling on the application to tender the schedule, the tribunal, led by Justice Tertsea Kume said the column containing the BVAS machine was not substantial enough to cause injury to the case of the petition and subsequently admitted the schedule as exhibit.
The tribunal went further to admit form EC8A, EC8B, EC8C, EC8D and EC8E as exhibit and marked them accordingly.
Immediately after the ruling, Counsel for Oyetola rose and asked the tribunal to vacate its order which admitted the documents on the ground that the said documents as listed in the schedule were not properly tendered.
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He said though the Petitioners counsel have jointly inspected the documents with the respondents’, but at the point of its tendering before the court, it must be shown to them to be sure that the documents inspected were the ones sought to be tendered.
He argued: “There is a serious fundamental procedural irregularities here. INEC never sought to tender the documents and could not have done so. What they sought to tender were the schedule containing the list of the said documents. If they were to tender any documents, they will bring them here, but I never saw any.
“The contents of the schedule were never tendered. For it to be tendered, there must be an application to tender them and it is then we will know that what we examined is what is being tendered and then we can say we agree or not. This is cardinal.
“So as not to deny us our right to fair hearing, I will urge your Lordships to vacate the order admitting those documents contained in the schedules”, Fagbemi argued.
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Replying to the issue raised by Fagbemi, the Counsel for INEC, Professor Paul Ananaba, SAN, counsel for Adeleke, Onyeachi Ikpeazu SAN and counsel for PDP, Alex Izinyon SAN agreed that there was a procedural issue in the tendering of the documents.
They conceded that the portion where the said documents were admitted should be set aside so that the INEC counsel can re-tender the documents in question.
The tribunal chairman subsequently agreed with the Petitioners’ counsel and set aside the earlier ruling which admitted the documents.
Subsequently, the INEC counsel sought to re-tender the documents, which are form EC8A, EC8B, EC8C, EC8D and EC8E and the petitioners’ counsel said they have objection to the admissibility of the documents but reserved their objections till the final address stage.
Subsequently, the tribunal adjourned the ruling on the admissibility of the documents till tomorrow, Wednesday.