– You have no Defence Against our Petition-Ikpeazu
– Jittery Oyetola in Court
– We Believe Justice will be Done-Hon Albert Adeogun
– Judgement Day to be Announced with a 48Hours notice.
Osun election petition hearing drew to a close today with the petitioner and the respondents presenting final addresses before the panel.A mild drama ensued when the respondents’ counsels mumbled all through their allotted twenty minutes scouting for ways to window dress their poor and weak defence.
This last session had commenced with the panel chairman noting that since all the parties have earlier submitted their Final addresses and replies, the next stage was the adoption of the filled addresses and few minutes for explanations and summary of final submissions.
Messrs Mahmoud; counsel to INEC/1st Respondent started out by just adopting his own address and seeking cost against the Petitioner for not proving its case, a request that brought laughter to the courtroom because it was actually INEC that failed to call any witness to support their defence.
Chief Ajibola Olanipekun SAN Counsel to Oyetola/2nd Respondent then took the floor to make his own presentations. What surprised most people on court was the way he had incoherent submissions, trying to mask the incoherence with “big grammar ” and theatrics prompting the panel Chairman to ask again whether all these were not captured in their address.The Senior Advocate of Nigeria who was apparently rattled by the Interim Governor Gboyega Oyetola who was for the first time present in court. He appeared to be under pressure to impress his “boss”, albeit with irrelevance references, for example he cited the ruling of the Presidential Tribunal yesterday which said its powers were restricted from granting some prayers made by the Atiku legal Team without drawing the correlation with the instant Tribunal. At a point,even Ajibola Bashiru SRJ had to whisper what appears like a cautioning hint into the SAN’s ears.
The 3rd respondent’s lawyer, Akin Olujinmi while more coherent than Olanipekun however had issues with cogency of his points.While on the one hand submitting that 63 witnesses deployed by the petitioner made allusions to alteration of election results,he on the other hand said their submissions are irrelevant because they failed to answer questions.He also alleged that the petitioner failed to speak to documents it tendered despite all the witnesses and witness statements referencing each evidence tendered.
A major high point of Olanipekun’s submission centered on the Petitioner’s Principal/Star Witness PW74, Mr Dele Adeleke who was the state collation agent for the PDP. The senior lawyer said the witness responded to questions on almost all the polling units even though he was only a state agent. He wondered how PW74 can be on authority on almost all the Units contested by the Petitioner.
When it was becoming obvious the respondents were holding onto contradictory arguments,the panel chairman relieved the respondents’ lawyers of added stress by enforcing the time limits.
It now the turn of Dr Onyeachi Ikpeazu SAN, lead Counsel to the Petitioner; Senator Ademola Adeleke who shined like a star at the hearing as he calmly yet brilliantly demolished the scattered and incoherent submissions of his learned colleagues on the Respondents side.
Ikpeazu opened up his submission by first declaring that the 1st and 2nd Respondents technically have no Final Addresses before the Tribunal because the 2 of them went on a self imposed expedition to look for issues that were outside the 3 Issues articulated and decided at Prehearing stage by the Tribunal and therefore untenable.
Wondering why the respondents were so confused in their submissions, Ikpeazu again declared that “before man and God,you have no final address before this honourable panel.
Launching his verbal treatise to the subdued admiration of even the respondents’ team,Ikpeazu submitted that the main plank of the petitioner’s address is that based on election of September 22, Ademola Adeleke having satisfied all legal and constitutional requirements should be declared the winner of the Osun governorship election.The election of 27th should be discountenanced as it was based on illegal and unconstitutional act of the INEC returning officer,the petitioners lawyer affirmed.
According to him,election petition is to determine two things namely question of undue returns and undue elections.He said the petitioner submitted with proof that elections results were mutilated and altered,adding that the electoral body during the course of the hearing could not dispute the submission nor called witnesses to justify her conduct and the final results.
He submitted further that the Principal witness PW74 as the state collation agent could not have relied on any other documents than those submitted by his party agents across the state. As the state agent,he is entitled to testify state wide based on submissions of his agents from across the state. His evidence cannot therefore be wished away as they are based on proofs and oral and written evidence of PDP witnesses who testified before the panel.
The other witnesses have written addresses already submitted to the panel and so they cannot be accused of frivolity or monotonous choice of words during cross examination.That the witnesses were repeating words such as “mutilated,altered,doctored” does not in anyway undermine the genuineness of their allegations that INEC in collusion with APC tampered with the result,Ikpeazu further noted.
By the time Ikpeazu was through with his submission,Olanipekun attempted to make further input in defence of the respondents.In what appears like a desperate bid to reconstruct the initial errors in the adumberation,Olanipekun raised a purported document for review. At that point again the judge overruled him.
In his final address, the panel chairman observed that there was no crisis throughout the hearing, commending the bar and the bench including journalists for fair reporting. A date for the judgement is to be announced.
Meanwhile,Oyetola was physically uncomfortable throughout the hearing. Ajibola Famurewa who was seated with him and Kabiru Aregbesola,the Chief of Staff designate, were all glued to their seats ,watching the legal brilliance of petitioner’s lawyers.
When the proceedings ended, Oyetola refused to talk to the media who had set their gadgets waiting for the acting governor.
A lawyer within the APC team jokingly said “we know what to do”,adding, “our lawyers were defending a very terrible case ,hence their incoherence. We may lose at this court but we will appeal till Supreme Court”.
The PDP counsel, Dr Ananaba speaking with the media said “you have seen we have a very solid well canvassed case supported by all requisite evidence.We commend the panel. We are expecting nothing but the granting of all reliefs we seek”,he said.
Also speaking,the deputy governorship candidate of the PDP,Hon Albert Adeogun said “we had come to the house of justice.We know we will get justice”
My Take : The way Dele Adeleke became a focus in a sensitive document as the written address of the respondents, One will know that our Star Witness had dealt a big blow on Oyetola and helped the Tribunal significantly with issues that could form a positive judgement in our favour. How on earth can a learned silk like Akin Olujinmi SAN say that a Tribunal can not quash INEC certificate of return just because it was not tendered especially after it has been proven that the certificate in contention was wrongly issued in the first place? It is like saying that the Tribunal by striped of its own congenital power which is impossible. I have come sense to know this. We can start to rejoice in advance my People. Let me say that th regime will likely become the first in the history of Nigeria which will be inaugurated and subsequently dismissed without forming a cabinet while it existed. The promise of God never fails