By Tony Ehighiale, Benin City
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, will open his defence at the ongoing hearing of the petition filed by Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and the Peoples Democratic Party at the Election Petition Tribunal on Thursday.
The governor will have ten days to call witnesses and prove to the tribunal why Pastor Ize-Iyamu should not be declared winner of the September 28 governorship election.
This is is just the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday the closed its defense before the Justice Ahmed Badamasi-led three man tribunal without calling any witness.
It however tendered 203 documents to prove its case.
The documents tendered by INEC as exhibits before the tribunal included 200 copies of Form EC8(B) for the 18 Local Government Areas, one copy of Form EC8(C) for the 18 LGAs of the state, Form EC8(D) for Edo state and Form EC8(E).
Counsel to INEC, Onyinye Anumonye, also tendered a document titled “supplementary to the 2015 guidelines and regulations for the conduct of the election”.
Anumonye informed the tribunal that no witness would be called over what he termed ‘to merely repeat the evidence already elicited under cross examination.’
According to him, “having carefully and calmly revealed the evidence presented so far, it is our humble position that the first respondent has through the process of cross examination of petitioners witnesses which statement under cross examination support the first respondent case particularly documents tendered as exhibits.
“The first respondent has sufficiently established its defense to the petition and we therefore consider it as unnecessary waste of the tribunal precious time to call witnesses who would merely come to repeat evidence we have already elicited under cross examination. The first respondent has decided to spare the tribunal that ordeal. What I have been trying to say in a very few words is that this is the case for the first respondent”, he said.
When Counsel to Obaseki, Ken Mozia SAN, was called upon to open defence for the second respondents, he prayed the tribunal to adjourn till Thursday to enable him organise his witnesses.
The Tribunal chairman ruled that the defence of the 1st respondent was closed, and adjourned sitting till Thursday dor the 2rd respondent to open his defence.