The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Plateau State, has (today) agreed with the Counsel to Sen JT Useni that a witness whose statement on oath has already been frontloaded in a Petition but not listed can be allowed to testify at the Tribunal.
The Tribunal therefore overruled the objections by counsel to INEC, Lalong and APC which sought to stop a PDP witness, Baba Ali Adam, whose name had carried an acronym “AAQ" from testifying.
They had based their objections on Paragraph 4 (5) of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act which provides that an Election Petition shall be accompanied by a list of witnesses among other things.
But Useni's Counsel had countered, describing the objection as a gross misconception of the Electoral Act which gave the tribunal all directions on all matters concerning witnesses.
The Tribunal, in a ruling read by the Chairman, Hon Justice HA Saleeman, agreed with the position of the Petitioners' counsel. The Tribunal relied on Paragraph 53 (1) of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act which provides that non-compliance with the rule of practice shall not render any proceeding void unless the tribunal so directs.
The Chairman equally cited other authorities, and therefore refused the objections of the Respondents' counsel and ordered that the witness Baba Ali Adam, aka ‘AAQ' should proceed to give his testimony.
She said there is need to do substantial justice to the petition before the tribunal.
Meantime, the tribunal has reserved ruling on another objection by the Respondents’ counsel seeking to stop the same witness from testifying on INEC Form EC8A (Statement of Results) saying he did not refer to the form in his deposition.
However, the tribunal agreed with the position of Counsel to Sen Useni, Barr EG Pwajok, SAN, that stopping the witness at this point will deny the Petitioners “substantial justice" . Hon Justice Saleeman therefore reserved ruling until at the final judgement.
These landmark rulings clear the way for Sen Useni and the PDP to bring in their witnesses and so meet up with the time limit set for the tribunal to complete its assignment.
Media Consultant to Sen JT Useni
July 1, 2019