Abeokuta, Ogun State – In a recent development at the governorship election petition tribunal in Abeokuta, a crucial objection raised by counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Gordy Uche, SAN, has been dismissed. The objection insisted that the petitioner’s witness should not be asked to compare witness statements with statements made by other petitioners. Meanwhile, the trial witnessed yet another twist when the PDP’s counsel was asked to step down the appearance of a subpoenaed witness.
During the tribunal session, Dr Remi Olatubora, counsel to the 1st respondent (INEC), cross-examined a witness called by the PDP, Hon. Aina Adewale, from Sagamu. Olatubora pointed out striking similarities between Adewale’s witness statement and those of two other witnesses, Sowande Seun and Ademola Adekunle. The similarities were so pronounced that they extended to word-for-word and omission-for-omission instances. As a result, Olatubora argued that it was essential to question the witness extensively to verify his credibility and accuracy.
However, in response to the objection, the PDP’s counsel cited section 67 of the evidence act, emphasizing that the witness should not be questioned about documents he did not author. He also referred to other legal authorities to support his argument.
Dismissing the objection, Olatubora invoked section 223 of the evidence act and underscored its accordance with the 1999 constitution, which ensures a fair hearing. He asserted that the act allows him to cross-examine the witness in any manner that tests his veracity and knowledge. Furthermore, Governor Abiodun’s lawyer, Professor Taiwo Osipitan SAN, stressed that one of the purposes of cross-examination is to discover who a witness truly is. Osipitan argued that asking the witness to compare his statement with the statements of other witnesses is permissible since it provides an opportunity for clarification and helps determine if the witness is credible.
The counsel to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Otunba Kunle Kalejaiye, supported the arguments of his colleagues, stating that the PDP’s lawyer failed to demonstrate that the questions posed to the witness were scandalous, immodest, offensive, or in any way prohibited by law. He joined the other lawyers in urging the tribunal to overrule the objection.
Consequently, the tribunal ruled against the objection raised by the PDP’s counsel, citing its earlier decisions on similar objections.
In another significant development, the PDP’s counsel was asked to step down the appearance of a subpoenaed witness who claimed to be an INEC staff and worked as a presiding officer during the March 18th governorship poll. This decision came after objections were raised by counsels to INEC regarding the timing of the witness’s statement, which was only made and served on the respondents yesterday.
The trial will continue in Abeokuta, as the tribunal explores the intricacies surrounding the governorship election and seeks to deliver a fair judgment.