The petition filed by the Labour Party (LP) and its gubernatorial candidate in the just concluded governorship election in Delta State, challenging the election victory of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa at the polls suffered yet another major setback yesterday.
At the resumed hearing of the substantive suit, the three-man- panel of tribunal hearing the cases affirmed that Labour Party and Ogboru’s star witness is hostile to the petitioners.
At the resumed hearing of the matter, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Nasiru Gunmi, held that the star witness of the Labour Party and Great Ogboru has not only suddenly abandoned them but that he has turned hostile.
Counsel to LP and Ogboru , Mr. Robert Emukpoeruo, had informed the tribunal that certain portions in paragraphs 5,6, and 7 of their witness, Mr. Felix Enabor from Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) statement on oath, contained depositions that are “animus and hostile” to their petitioners.
Expectedly, the motion elicited objections and counter objections from counsels to both parties to the dispute.
In his ruling, Justice Gunmi upheld the position of the petitioners, saying that, “we have carefully examined the deposition of Principal Witness 2 and we are of the view that some of the paragraphs in the said deposition stands against the pleading of the petitioners, we therefore agree with the petitioners counsel that it was right to treat pw2 as hostile witness for the purpose of being cross examined by the petitioners counsel”.
Soon after the court declared Mr. Felix Enabor as a hostile witness, Justice Gunmi asked Ogboru’s counsel, Mr. Dele Adesino (SAN) to proceed with his cross examination, where Enabor responded to questions saying that the governorship election conducted by INEC in Delta state was done in compliance with the electoral acts .
Enabor, under examination by the counsels of Okowa, PDP and INEC, Mr. Ken Mozie (SAN), Timothy Kehinde(SAN) and Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) respectively also affirmed that he was not the maker of the documents that were tendred in court but that he came only to tender them.
He also said that he did not come to court with ill feelings as he was a civil servant, adding that paragraph 5 of the deposition he made in court over the stolen INEC document and the arrest of some persons in connect to the criminal act was based on police investigation and report, saying that he has no animosity against those arrested.
He said he stood by the averments made in the depositions in his statement to the tribunal on oath, adding that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is the duly elected candidate in the governorship election of Delta State having polled the highest votes .
Enabor also told the tribunal that, some of the data captured in the card reader were not captured in the field before the saver was shut dawn.
Attempt by Ogboru’s counsel to subject the witness to another round of cross examination after the court declared him hostile elicited another round of argument as respondent’s counsels vehemently opposed the move.
According to Adesina, the subpoenaed order on the witness has not been vacated by the tribunal, adding that there are some documents that the witness needed to tender before the tribunal.
Mozie strongly opposed it saying , “the argument is grossly mischievous , he has been cross examined , he has deposed to his statement , adding that the subpoena was issued on the application of the Petitioners .
I submit that no provision of the law for disjointed presentation of evidence, I submit that he can no longer give evidence and should be allowed to go.
Kehinde in his opposition submitted that “the witness cannot come back to give evidence in chief because there is no provision in our justice system that evidence should be done in bits as he did not apply to make the witness present or tender his document before declaring him hostile.
Kehinde argued further, that the petitioner can bring any document through other witness , saying they either sink or swim with the witness
Ikpeazu, on his part aligned with the submission of the other respondent counsel , adding that the witness has told the tribunal that all the documents needed had been produced.
He informed the court that the prosecution made a very serious and dangerous choice to the effect that they would rather treat the witness as hostile witness which was an abandonment of a friendly witness , if they have to tender any document , it has to come through another witness, the petitioner had made wrong choice.
Ruling on the matter, justice Gunmi disallowed the moves by the petitioners to compel the witness to tender further document or keep him any longer as witness as they have declared him as a hostile witness .
He adjourned further hearing on the matter to next Monday, 7th September, 2015.