The Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal resumed yesterday with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) receiving harsh criticism for failure to present witnesses for examination before the tribunal.
The chairman, Mohammed Sirajo, chided INEC for failing to organise itself and for employing ‘delay tactics’.
“Borrow a leaf from the petitioners. They were organised and ready and were able to present 80 witnesses. They are not in government, yet they are this organised and can plan their resources,” the panel chairman declared.
The sitting had opened with the counsel to INEC, Mr. Kpodum, seeking adjournment till next week on the ground that the witnesses to be presented before the tribunal were not yet available.
The counsel who apologized profusely, however, got more than what he bargained for when the tribunal chairman tackled him with a barrage of questions and condemnations for treating the tribunal with levity.
“Election petition is an emergency and so must run from day-to-day unlike regular court proceedings. Borrow a leaf from the petitioners. We are constrained by time. Our albatross are the lawyers; you like to see us suffer. What is so difficult in presenting your witnesses?”
“We have read your submission. What is delaying your witnesses. Is it that you have not prepared them since the time you submitted the evidence?”, the panel chairman retorted.
Counsels to the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State Lasun Sanusi (SAN) and John Bayeshea (SAN) respectively, however, supported the INEC counsel, explaining logistics issues behind the inability of the witnesses to appear.
The counsel to the petitioner, N.O.Oke (SAN) in his contribution supported the concerns raised by the panel chairman as he said the development pointed to INEC having no defence against the petition of his client.
“My Lord, if INEC has no defence against our petition, I urge them to throw in their towel and surrender now to our petition,” Oke said.
Ruling on the matter, the tribunal rejected request for adjournment till January 24 and ruled that the sitting was adjourned till tomorrow (today).