The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, on Tuesday carpeted Counsel to Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and it’s Candidate, Oladipupo Adebutu, for commiting seeming blunder in the mode of it’s presentation before the Tribunal.
The party was flayed for it’s failure to comply with court’s directive which stipulates that documents scheduled to be presented before the court ought to have been tendered from the bar for parties involved to scrutinize and authenticate.
At the resumption of proceeding, Counsel to the PDP and Oladipupo Adebutu, Godwin Uche, SAN, had informed the Tribunal of the readiness of his team to formally commence trial immediately, adding that they have filled the list of their scheduled of documents before the Panel and have also physically brought all the said documents before it.
Consequently, Counsel to the 1st Respondent (INEC), Remi Olatumura, SAN, in his objection on the point of law, cautioned the move to commit such blunder, as he said while his team were ready to move on with the case, it is always imperative for the petitioner to have shown the documents to all the parties before then, insisting that he had not set his eye on the document for authentication.
Olatumura, further said he owes his client the duty to confirm and certify that those documents actually emanated from INEC and accordingly scrutinize it.
In the same vein, Counsel to the 2nd Respondent(Governor Dapo Abiodun) Kehinde Ogunwunmiju, SAN, opined that going by the volume of the tendered documents and in line with procedure rules, which remain always sacrosanct, the over 6000 documents ought to have been presented from the bar earlier for the benefit of the parties to view and confirm it’s validity.
Ogunwunmiju, also informed the Tribunal that the PDP’s Counsel had accordingly followed the procedure rules in a similar case involving the duo in Ebonyi State but decided to act otherwise in Ogun State.
He, then stressed that the parties needed more time to check and authenticate the documents, arguing that 24 hours might not be feasible and realistic to scrutinize the voluminous documents, as he also called for the list of witnesses at least 24 hours before the commencement of the case, in which PDP also failed to comply.
Corroborating the positions of the Counsels to the first and the second Respondents, Kunle Kalejaiye, SAN, who represented the 3rd Respondent(APC) unequivocally submitted,” We have to look at the documents. The Tribunal has the responsibility to ensure that the needful is done. These are very serious and strategic documents. They should have invited us to come and view.
“I adopt the submissions of the 1st and 2nd respondents accordingly. That all the undisputed documents should be admitted from the bar. For documents to be undisputed such must have been seen by all parties involved in the case. These documents have been sought for many months. We should not be railroad to admittance of documents. I urge Your Lordship to give us reasonable time to inspect”, Kalejaiye submitted.
He, subsequently prayed the court to grant to grant two days leave for proper scrutiny of the documents.
Ruling on the arguments, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Hon. Justice H.N. Kunaza, agreed on the point of law that the PDP had failed to comply with the court’s directive, which is sacrosanct, that the tendered documents ought to have been presented from the bar for the purpose of thorough verification and authentication by all the parties involved.
He, as well queried the reason why Uche refused to comply with the procedure rules in Ogun State, whereas, he followed the same rules in a similar case in Ebonyi.
In his words,” We cannot force them to admit documents they have not seen. All of you should look at the documents”.
The Tribunal’s Chairman, therefore, granted the parties two days to thoroughly scrutinize the documents accordingly, as the case was adjourned till Thursday 6th July, for continuation of hearing.