Alexander Okere, Benin
The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, on Thursday, opened his defence in response to the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, at the state Election Petitions Tribunal in Benin, the state capital.
The PDP and Ize-Iyamu are, in their substantive petition, challenging the declaration of Obaseki as the winner of the September 28, 2016, governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
They had also listed INEC, Obaseki and the All Progressives Congress in the suit as the first to third respondents respectively.
At the resumption of hearing, the governor, through his counsel, Adetunji Oyeyipo (SAN), called in six witnesses to testify before the Justice Ahmed Badamasi-led panel in furtherance of his case.
One of the witnesses from the Oredo Local Government Area, Jimoh Osagiede, told the tribunal, under cross-examination, that the election was free and fair in Ward 4, Unit 24, where he functioned as the APC agent as the INEC officials discharged their duties “perfectly.”
Osagiede, who claimed to have been present from the beginning to the end of exercise, said it would be wrong for anyone to allege that no voter was accredited as accreditation and voting were done simultaneously.
He also told the tribunal that party agents, who were willing to sign the result sheet for his polling unit, appended their signatures.
But an attempt by counsel for the APC, Dr. Joseph Olatoke, to tender the witness’ card as a party agent was opposed by the lead counsel for the petitioners, Yusuf Ali (SAN), who argued that a witness could only tender a document that was cited in his or her written statement on oath, pleaded, listed and front-loaded.
Olatoke urged the tribunal to discountenance the petitioners’ objection, stating that having claimed to be an APC agent, the counsel for the party had the right to question him and tender the party’s card as an officer of justice.
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