This may not be the best of time for Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP as the Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Asaba, today again, in a ruling described as “well-considered ruling,” dismissed their fresh three applications seeking to bar INEC staff from coming to give oral evidence before the tribunal.
The Labour Party governorship candidate for the April 11, 2015 election, Chief Great Ogboru who is challenging Okowa’s victory at the tribunal had asked the tribunal to grant him an order to subpoena INEC ICT officer as one of his witness to enable him prove his case, but Okowa, PDP and INEC through their counsel opposed the order with fresh motions.
At the resumed hearing on Thursday, Counsel for Okowa, Dr. Alex Iziyon (SAN), the lawyer representing the PDP, Mr. A.T. Kehinde (SAN), and D.D. Dodo, (SAN) who is the counsel for INEC, had objected to the subpoena and had argued that the petitioners were looking for a way of bringing in additional witnesses, which were not pleaded in their petitions, a move that would contravene an earlier ruling of the tribunal on August 5.
However, in the legal fireworks that saw counsel to Okowa, PDP and INEC rattled by Mr. Dele Adesina (SAN) counsel to Ogboru and Labour Party, he argued that Okowa and the PDP has no locus standi to file the fresh application in the first instance and therefore asked the court to dismiss the application for lack of merit.
He averred that the respondents in this case, Okowa, PDP and INEC cannot determine the witness the petitioner is going to call and cannot stop them from coming, nothing that the petitioner is at liberty to bring in any witness that could help him prove his case.
Ruling on the three motions on Saturday, Justice Gunmi agreed with Ogboru’s lawyer that the subpoena to the INEC was not the business of Okowa or the PDP. He also warned party to the case to stop bringing feverous motions to stall trial and delay proceedings of the court.
“The first respondent (Okowa) and second respondent (PDP) were not served the subpoena and have no right to complain about and cannot dictate which witnesses to call to prove their case,” the judge added.
In dismissing Okowa’s motions, the tribunal chairman said the subpoena issued to INEC was for the concerned official to give both oral evidence and tender relevant documents before the panel.
“The net effect of this is that the applications are liable to be dismissed and they are hereby dismissed,” Justice Gunmi said.
Substantive trial of the Ogboru’s petition starts Thursday, August 27, 2015.