The Independent National Electoral Commission has closed its defence in the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, at the Edo State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, without calling any witness.
The petitioners are challenging INEC’s declaration of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Godwin Obaseki, as winner of the September 28 poll and had listed them in the substantive petition as the first to third respondents, respectively.
At the resumption of hearing on Monday, counsel to INEC, Onyinye Anumonye, however, tendered no fewer than 200 copies of the ward results (Form EC8B) for the remaining 17 local government areas, all of which were admitted in evidence and marked as exhibits.
Anumonye also sought to tender a supplement to the 2015 guidelines and regulation for the conduct of the election.
Counsel to the petitioners, Roland Otaru, objected to the admissibility of the document, which he said ought to have been tendered by a witness at the witness box.
But the Chairman of the three-man panel, Justice Ahmed Badamasi, admitted in evidence and marked the certified true copy of the document as exhibit 1R022.
INEC had used five out of the 10 days allotted to it by the tribunal to open its defence had been expected to call its witnesses.
But its counsel said that it would amount to a waste of the tribunal’s time to call witnesses to support the case of the first respondent.
Anumonye explained that, having reviewed the evidence presented thus far, it was the position of the first respondent that it had sufficiently established a defence to the petition, through the cross-examination of the petitioners’ witnesses whose statements under cross-examination supported its case and, particularly, the documents tendered as exhibits.
“We, therefore, consider it an unnecessary waste of the tribunal’s precious time to call witnesses who would merely repeat evidences that it had already elicited under cross-examination,” he added.