The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has closed its case in defense of the petition filed by the Labour Party, LP and its governorship candidate, Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru, challenging the declaration of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa of the PDP, as the winner of the April 11 Delta State governorship elections b the Independent National electoral commission, INEC.
Represented by its lead counsel of the day, Kehinde Ogunwumiju Esquire, who was standing in for A.T Kehinde, SAN, the PDP, also known as the 2nd Respondent in the elections petitions tribunal, called its last witness, Mr. Afam Uzor, but identified as witness PNU for security reasons, a businessman cum politician, who resides at cable point, Asaba and confirmed that he was the PDP Party and Ward collation agent for Ward 11, Oshimili South LGA.
Under the respective cross examinations of K.D Mozia, SAN, for Okowa (first respondent) and O. Anumonye Esquire for INEC (third respondent), Mr. Afam affirmed that he was indeed the party agent as well as a bona fide voter in the election and produced both his party tag and Personal voters card, PVC, both of which were tendered and admitted as exhibits by the tribunal, to buttress his point.
He also confirmed that INEC distributed election materials accordingly, and established that accreditation was done properly with the card readers and voters register and voting took place in his unit 11, located at Ogbeilo primary school, and in all the units of ward 11, stating that he was accredited around 9.30am and voted around 2.30pm and in all that period, accreditation went on smoothly in all the units in the ward and there was no violence, or multiple thumb printing and all the other electoral malpractice, ealier reported by one witness, PW 8, during his testimony, in his unit or any of the other units he monitored.
Mr. Afam further established under cross examination by the respondents, that all the results from the polling units were brought to the ward collation centre, by the relevant agents where the designated INEC Ward collation officer duly supervised the collation of the results at the ward lebel, witnessed by party agents, including those of the APC and Labour party, after which the collated and confirmed result was announced and were signed by all the party agents, who were then given a copy each for the records.
However, the expected drama, for those who have been following the tribunal, played out once again, when lead counsel of the day to the petitioner, Mr. Robert Emukperuo Esquire took on Mr. Afam Uzor, under cross examination and established that Afam, who had earlier told the tribunal that he monitored election in his polling unit and other polling units in Ward 11 could not remember the name of the PDP agents in his unit.
A verbal altercation ensued when Robert Emukperuo, asked the witness to read the figures in the card reader accreditation exhibit, prompting Kehinde Ogunwumiju to quickly intervene and tell the tribunal that Mr. Afam Uzor, cannot be asked to read from a document which he was neither the maker nor did not depose to and the petitioners should first lead the witness to identify the document before asking him any questions on it.
Emukperuo however insisted that the witness should answer questions on the document since he had already alluded to it and further averred that from the INEC accreditation record before the tribunal, there were cases of over voting where the scores returned were in excess of the accredited voters in some units like units 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14 and even including unit 11, where Mr. Afam said he had voted, in Ward 11, Oshimili South, LGA.
When prompted further by the tribunal to answer the question, Mr. Afam, who claimed that he also uses reading glasses to see figures clearly, told the tribunal that he could not speak on the document since he did not see the voter register to confirm if there was ticking or not, adding that as he was not the maker of the document, he was therefore not aware of any over voting as contained in the document since he was not an INEC staff.
“Sir, the thing is that I can read, but am not here with my reading glasses, and I don’t know this document, so I can’t read what is in it sir… I am not aware of what he (Emukperuo) has claimed my lords,” Mr. Afam insisted.
With the cross examination over and in the absence of any re-examination of his witness, the PDP Counsel, Mr. Kehinde Ogunwumiju, informed the tribunal that having given due consideration to the evidence already elicited by the respondents so far and on which he intended to rely on, he has decided to close his case without calling any additional witnesses.
The three-man tribunal headed by Justice Nasiru Gunmi, subsequently accepted the application by the PDP to close its case and having settled the dates for the filing and response of final addresses from the contending parties, thereafter adjourned till Friday, October 2nd, 2015, for INEC to open and close their defence, as well as firm up all the dates for the adoption of final address for all the parties.