Kogi Central Senate: Tribunal Grants Natasha’s Prayer for More Witnesses, Fixes Date for Hearing

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Kogi Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja has accepted the prayer of Counsel to Barr Natasha Akpoti of SDP, Barr. P.B. Abalaka to bring in more witnesses and adjourned hearing of the consolidated petition by Natasha Akpoti of SDP, and Senator Ahmed Ogembe of PDP  challenging the election of Yakubu Oseni of APC to June 26.

While presenting his case, the lead Counsel to Natasha Akpoti, of SDP, Barr. P.B. Abalaka with petition No. EPT/KG/SEN/02/2019, said his application for more witnesses is brought pursuant to section 6 (6) and  section 36 (6) of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, section 151 of the 2010 electoral Act as amended.

He pointed out that the application is supported by 13 paragraphs affidavit and also accompanied by written address.

Abalaka argued that they also have further affidavit in support of the application filed on May 24, 2019, adding that the further affidavit also have written address responding to the counter affidavit of the third Respondent.

He explained that he also attached exhibit A and B to the affidavit and also a reply to all the three categories of Respondents  address filed on the first May 31.

Abalaka further argued that the fulcrum of the written application for more witnesses is based on the order given by the honourable tribunal March 29 to inspect the electoral materials for 2019 senatorial election in Kogi Central.

Reacting, the Counsel to INEC, Suleiman Haliru who served as second Respondent to petition suit No. EPT/KG/SEN/02/2019 by Natasha Akpoti of SDP pointed out that he filed a counter motion to the application by the counsel to Natasha Akpoti on May 28, seeking the relief of the honourable tribunal to dismiss the application.

According to him, the counter motion is supported by eleven paragraphs counter affidavit, explaining that he supported the counter affidavit by written address as part of their oral application.

On his own argument, the Counsel to APC, Oluwole Kolawole pointed out that he has filed a counter motion with a written address and affidavit on May 26 in response to the application by the Counsel to Natasha Akpoti.

Kolawole argued that the Petitioners cannot bring more witnesses since the Petitioners are not seeking for amendment of their petition, praying the honourable tribunal to dismiss the application.

In his argument, the counsels to Yakubu Oseni of APC, Barr. E.B Daudu, adding that he has filed a written address in support of his motion in opposition the ground of the application of the Petitioners, urging the honourable tribunal to dismiss the application for what he termed as incompetent and overreaching.

While presenting his case, the lead Counsel to Senator Ahmed Ogembe of PDP, Barr. Ulumide Olayomi sought the relief of the tribunal to withdraw his petition seeking for amendment which was granted by the tribunal chairman.

However, the Counsel to Yakubu Oseni of APC, E.B. Odaudu said he filed an application on the 27 May 2019 seeking for the dismissal of petition by Ahmed Ogembe of PDP, adding that the application is supported by a 14 paragraph affidavit and a written address.

While responding to the said application, the lead Counsel to Ahmed Ogembe, Femi Motojesi argued that they have also filed counter application supported by 14 paragraphs affidavit and a written address seeking the relief of the honourable tribunal to dismiss the motion for lack of merit.

In his ruling, the tribunal chairman  held that, “the Petitioners with petition suit No. EPT/KG/SEN/02/2019, is seeking the relief of honourable tribunal to file for more witnesses in support of their case pursuant to the inspection of the electoral materials as ordered by the tribunal on March 29, 2019.

“There are argument that the Petitioners cannot file for more witnesses without the amendment of their petition, there are also argument questioning the provision of the law upon which the application was based.

“We have considered the issues above, the substance of the application is that the Petitioners are seeking to bring in evidence consequence upon inspection of electoral materials required by the honourable tribunal.

“It will not make any sense if the Petitioners will not be allowed to bring evidence of inspection ordered by the court. The only way they can do this is by filing additional statement for both of suggestion or filing statement of new witnesses or both. 

“For the tribunal to deny the Petitioners the right to file for new witnesses consequence upon the inspection ordered by the tribunal will amount to lack of fair hearing”, he held.

Citing precedents, the tribunal chairman held that, “on the case of Abubakar against Yaradua 2008, 18 pg 77 and Oni against Fayemi 2008, 8 Nigeria weekly law report pt 1089 and pg 409, the oppositions to the motion lacks substance.

“We shall therefore grant the application consequently the relief is granted for the Petitioners to file additional written statement on oath of witnesses consequent upon the inspection of electoral materials ordered by this honourable tribunal on 29th March, 2019.

“Further more, the additional written statement on the oath of the first Petitioner, Natasha Hadiza Akpoti and the written statement of the witnesses is considered to have been properly filed and shall be used in the course of the hearing”, the tribunal chairman ruled.

On the motion seeking for the relief of the honourable tribunal to dismiss the petition of Ahmed Ogembe, the tribunal chairman held that the ruling will be taken along with the judgment.

The tribunal chairman, however, ended the pre-trial and fixed June 26 for the commencement of hearing.

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