The Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Asaba on Wednesday dismissed the application of the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, seeking to bring in a statistician expert witness to testify before the tribunal.
The three-man panel led by Justice C.H. Ahuchaogu also dismissed another application by the APC candidate seeking extension of time for INEC subpoenaed witness to file a witness statement on oath and also to testify before the tribunal.
Counsels to the second respondent (Governor Sheriff Oborevwori) and third respondent (Peoples Democratic Party, PDP), had opposed the applications on the ground that granting same would over reach the respondents.
They had argued that the first application specifically, was aimed at bringing in new facts when pleadings had long closed, and would not afford them another opportunity to reply.
In dismissing the first application, the tribunal while citing previous cases, agreed with the respondents that the application cannot be granted, noting that it was brought 101 days after an order for inspection of election materials was granted.
The tribunal faulted the petitioners’ claims that INEC was responsible for the delay, declaring that there was no evidence to show that the petitioners applied to INEC for the materials after the order for inspection of materials was granted on April 3 until May 17.
It added while the inspection was done on May 23, the petitioners waited till July 13 to file the report.
“The petitioners having failed to file their expert witness statement on oath, cannot be allowed to eat their cake and have it. The application for extension to allow for expert statistician witness is not grantable as it will over reach the respondents who will be left with the short end of the stick as they cannot file another reply to the petition,” the tribunal held.
On the second application which is seeking extension of time for INEC to file a statement on oath based on the subpoena issued by the tribunal, the panel of justices held that the petitioners exhibited no evidence for the application to be granted.
They further held that INEC as an adversary, the tribunal cannot compel the electoral body to file witness deposition for the petitioners, noting that the best the tribunal could do which has been done was the issuance of a subpoena.
“It is not logical that a party should make a witness deposition for an adversary who is a respondent against a petition. Expecting that such a witness would sign and adopt a statement is beyond human reasoning.
“Such expectation is beyond our capacity as a tribunal. The best thing to do and we have done in this circumstance, is to issue a subpoena for INEC to appear. In some, we find no merit in this application, and it is dismissed in its entirety,” the tribunal held.