The gubernatorial election tribunal sitting in Asaba on Friday, 4th September, admitted polling unit results from all the 25 LGA’s and also admitted the governorship
results of the April 2015 elections tendered by Emerhor/APC’s witness, Ore Ohinoi, who served as director of operations and administration of the O’tega/APC campaign in the state. This occurred despite the stiff opposition put up by counsels to the respondents, who made several objections regarding the admissibility of the evidence.
[Picture above: Emerhor O’tega of the APC]
The results tendered were arranged in order of local governments and wards for easy identification and comprehension. Prior to the eventual testimony, the witness had sworn for depositions which were filed on 2nd May, 29th May and 5th June respectively.
The counsels to the first to fifth respondents objected to the depositions filed on the 29th of May and 5th of June stating that the pleadings were a breach of the electoral act, claiming that they were additional statements which could not be included and adopted in the petition since they were filed after the statutory 21 days.
The counsel to the petitioner, in his response, stated that all objections would be heard along the petitions in the course of the hearings as declared by the tribunal, and that the respondents were served with the process in May and June respectively and had raised no issues. The petitioner also alleged that the incessant objections were a ploy by the respondents to delay the petition.
However, at the end of the arguments and counter arguments, the tribunal ruled in favour of the petitioners and overruled the respondents, therefore paving way for the statement of the witnesses to be adopted for the hearing to continue.
This did not, however, prevent further objections as immediately after the document was adopted, the counsels to the respondents objected to the admissibility of Form “EC8A” (the governorship election result), stating that it was not pleaded and could, therefore, not be admitted.
The petitioner responded by asking the respondents whether they were surprised by the tendering of a document which was also in their possession, and whether the respondents were in any doubt that the unit results were inflated.
He also added that in his initial filing of the petition, it was clearly stated that the results produced by the third, fourth and fifth respondent (INEC) as stated in paragraphs 15 of the petition would be relied upon.
The petitioner went further to state that in paragraph 16 of the petition, the results for the governorship election from the LGA can be tendered as documents sought and were listed by the petitioners as documents to be relied upon in paragraph five. The form was also specifically mentioned in paragraphs seven and eight of the witness’ statement filed with the petition.
The tribunal again ruled in favour of the petitioners, overruling the first to fifth respondents by stating that adequate notice was served on them, that the purpose of pleadings have been satisfied, and that documentary evidence can be pleaded where it clearly indicates a difference between the number of votes and the total number of accredited voters.
The tribunal also stated that the respondents had failed to show why the polling unit results shouldn’t be admitted and marked as exhibits, and these were subsequently marked as exhibits and given sequential numbers as P8 – P33.
The form EC8C LGA results were however declined to be tendered by the tribunal since they were not clearly specified in the petitioner’s plea for listing.
Comparative analysis/summary of votes by Emerhor/APC’s witness was however also objected to by the 1st – 5th respondents stating that the document was not pleaded/stated in the petition of the petitioner.
Chief Okpoko [SAN], counsel to the petitioner, stated that paragraph 16 of the petition clearly indicates that the document was pleaded, and it was averred in paragraph eight that a comparative analysis/summary of results clearly indicates that results run over and above the INEC accreditation which is indicated on page 7i where the first to fifth respondents claimed they hadn’t seen.
The issue of whether a computer was used to organize the comparative analysis/summary of the results was also brought up by the respondents to delay the exposure of a flawed electoral process which the PDP claims they won.
The tribunal adjourned till Monday 7th of September 2015 for ruling.
By Rinsola Abiola
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