Governor Okowa’s defense in the on-going Governorship Election Tribunal sitting in Asaba got a significant boost yesterday when the Chairman of the tribunal Justice Nasiru Gunmi, overruled an objection by the Labour Party seeking to stop counsel to Okowa from tendering exhibits, which could weaken labour party’s case.
Counsel to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, Mr. Ken Mozee (SAN) had during cross examination of Labour Party (LP) state chairman, Chief Toni Ezeagwu, who is also one of the star petitioners’ witness, sought to tender a document containing notice of Labour party gubernatorial primary to INEC before the tribunal.
However, counsel to Ogboru, Mr. Dele Adesina (SAN), sensing the damage the document will cause to Labour party’s case objected on the premise that the document that Okowa team wanted to tender was neither pleaded, listed nor front loaded, which according to him, violated the provisions of the Electoral Act 2012.
But, Mozea, responded by pointing out that the document was pleaded in paragraph one of the first respondent’s reply, even as he noted that the essence of cross examination was to test the veracity of the witness’ statement and that the document he sought to tender was a key element in testing the witness.
Arguing in the same vein, Counsels to INEC and PDP, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) and Mr. Timothy Kehinde, SAN both aligned themselves with Mozea’s position and restated that under Evidence Act, a witness can be cross examined on any document that is not listed. They maintained that in the instant case, the documents sought to be tendered were frontloaded and listed. At this juncture, Justice Nasiru Gunmi overruled counsel to Ogboru and admitted the document.
Meanwhile, The Labour Party Chairman, Ezeagwu, had while in the witness box admitted that some LP agents were arrested by the police in connection to the theft of some INEC documents and told the tribunal that the matter is currently in court.
Ezeagwu also attempted to disown further explain the conclusions in his statement as he told the tribunal that while preparing the statement deposed on oath before the court, that INEC officials, party agents and his lawyers made input and assisted with relevant information in the course of preparing the statement, thus creating the impression that the statement was not his whole idea.
He however affirmed that the governorship election which PDP, APC and LP participated in was conducted largely with the use of card readers and further confirmed that that information about the election results were received from their party agents in the field, during the election, as he did not participate in the uploading of information into INEC server.
When he was however confronted with the election result figures where Okowa scored 724,680 votes, to defeat Ogboru, who polled 130,028, and that even if the 205,000 disputed votes were removed from the total score, that Okowa still scored higher votes, Ezeagwu said that INEC calculation could not have been correct, since, according to his calculations and deposition, the overall votes during the elections were more than the votes accredited by the card reader
Attempts by the INEC counsel to further cross examine Ezeagwu met a brick wall as he (Ezeagwu) asked INEC counsel to direct further questions on the subject to his party’s counsel and declined to answer further questions.
It was a sort of drama as the tribunal chairman intervened to compel Ezeagwu to answer questions as directed by the respondents counsel. But even the Justice’s intervention was rebuffed and Justice Gunmi had to ask him to step out of the witness box and adjourned the matter to the next day, September 8th, 2015 for continuation of trial.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its gubernatorial candidate, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor, closed its case on Monday, April 7, 2015, when its lead counsel, Chief Thomson Okpoko, SAN, finished with his last witness Barr. Ore Ohimor, whose hotly contested document, dealing with the Comparative Analysis of the Delta Guber elections results, was finally tendered, admitted and numbered as an exhibit, in the trial.
Mr. Ohimor also established, during cross examination that Card readers were used during the election; that he relied on reports uploaded by the card from the field to compile his analysis, since he was neither an election official nor an INEC staff; that he had no contact with the card except when he was, verified, authenticated and accredited to vote by both the card reader and the voters register and that he had made his analysis based only on the card results and none from the voters register.