The Independent Nationa Electoral Commission, INEC, on Friday October 2, 2015, closed its defense against the petition filed by the Labour Party, LP and its governorship candidate, Chief Great Ovedje Ogboru, challenging the declaration of Senator Ifeanyi Okowa of the PDP, as the winner of the April 11, 2015 Delta State governorship election.
In a proceeding that lasted less than 20minutes at the resumed sitting of the Delta State elections petitions tribunal sitting in Asaba, Delta state, INEC lead counsel of the day, the well respected Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, told the Tribunal that the witness he intended to call had already been called by the petitioners as PW2, who was subsequently declared by the Tribunal as a hostile witness, and relying on his evidence as well as other duly certified INEC documents already tendered and admitted as exhibits in the trial.
Tribunal watchers and followers will recall that the said witness was one Mr. Felix Enabor, a civil servant with INEC who had been originally subpoenaed by the petitioners as their second witness to give evidence against Okowa, PDP and INEC on September 1, 2015.
Mr. Enabor had subsequently been declared as a hostile witness by the three-man election panel headed by Justice Nasiru Gunmi, based on the very robust argument presented by the lead Counsel of that day, Robert Emukperuo Esquire, urging the Tribunal to declare his own witness, Mr. Felix Enabor as a hostile witness, following the discovery that certain sections of his witness statement was at variance with the position of the petitioners and as a result was not a true reflection of the position and case the petitioners were prosecuting in the tribunal.
It was on the strength of this backdrop therefore, that Ikepazu had told the tribunal, “My lords, our witness has already been called by the petitioners as PW2, who was declared by this honourable tribunal as a hostile witness and relying on his evidence, including his documents, as well as the certified true copies of all INEC documents already tendered and admitted as exhibits before this tribunal, we hereby rest our case, my Lords,” the learned SAN said.
Justice Nasiru Gunmi, chairman of the three-man election tribunal panel promptly pronounced the INEC case closed and following an agreement on the dates for the filing and responses of oral addresses by A.T Kehinde, SAN (PDP), Akin Olatunji Esquire, who was appearing for the first time as the Petitioners lead counsel for Labour Party and Chief Ogboru, as well as Prof. O.O Ohaegbu Esquire, a member of the first respondent (Okowa) legal tean who stood in as lead counsel for the day and O. Anumonye (INEC), the tribunal subsequently adjourned to October 13, for the adoption of final addresses by all the contending parties.