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Plateau Guber Tribunal: Useni tenders more document concerning over voting, mutilation of Ballot papers.

Hearing continued on Saturday in the Plateau State Governorship Election petition tribunal sitting at High Court 7, West of Mines Jos in the only petition filed by Senator Jeremiah TimbutUseni, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), against Rt. Hon Simon BakoLalong and the All Progressive Congress (APC).
          When the case file was called, counsel to the petitioners Mike Ozekhome (SAN) told the tribunal that he had additional document to tender. “My Lords, in accordance with paragraph 4 of the pre-hearing report dated 13 June, 2019, we had the 3rd badge of document we intend to rely to tendertoday 29 June 2019” said Ozekhome.
          The document counsel to petitioners sought to tender include:
1.     INEC duplicate copies of statement of results wiches from ECSA and certified true copies (CTC) of same by INEC for Gobi Rawa polling unit, voting point (vp) code 001 in Kwyambana ward registration area of Wase local Government pleaded at paragraph 127-134 and can be found at pages 54-56 all in vol. 1 of the petition.
2.     INEC duplicate copies of statement of results, from EC8A and the attached CTC thereof duly certified by INEC for the following polling units (pu) of wards in Jos North LGA,
a.     GadanAlasiri polling unit code 006ni Naraguta ‘A’ registration area pleaded at paragraph 57, 55 & 232 and can be found at pages 28 and 33 in vol 1 of the petition.
b.     Rikkos centre polling unit code 037 JosJarawa ward registration area also pleaded at paragraph 36 and at page 47 of the petition.
c.      Kasuwa Dare polling unit code 002 Naraguta ‘A’ ward registration area which can be found at paragraph 37 & 56 and at pages 28 and 33 of the petition.
d.     Yan shanu 3 polling unit code 002 Naraguta ‘A’ registration area pleaded at paragraph 37 and 232 of witness statement and at page 24 and 96 all in vol 1 of the petition.
e.      Community centre polling unit code 024 Ali Kazaure ward registration area pleaded at paragraphs 39 and 45 and pages 30 and 31 of vol 1 of the petition.
f.       Abdulsallami street polling unit code 001 Ali Kazaure ward registration area pleaded at paragraphs 39 and 42 and at page 49 vol 1 of the petition.
g.     Filin Ball polling unit code 027 Naraguta ‘A’ ward registration area pleaded at paragraph 37 and at page 49, vol 1 of the petition.
h.     Itiddsa polling unit code 034 Ali Kazaure ward registration area pleaded at paragraphs 36 and can be found at pages 46,vol 1 of the petition.
i.       Yan Kaji polling unit code 034 Ali Kazaure ward registration area pleaded at paragraphs 39, 46, and 232 and at pages 30, 31 and 107, vol 1 of the petition.
j.       Asibiti Kutare polling unit code 021 Ali Kazuare ward registration area pleaded at paragraph 43 and can be found at page 31, vol of the petition.
k.     School Lane polling unit code 006Abba Na’shehu ward registration area pleaded at paragraph 232 and can be found at page III, vol 1 of the petition.
l.       MassalachinJumma’a street 1 polling unit code 026Abba Na’shehu ward registration area pleaded at paragraph 38 and can be found at page 28 in vol.1 of the petition counsels to respondents reserved objections to be articulated in the final document.
Consequently, the document were admitted in evidence and marked as exhibit p15, p15A, p16, p16A, p17, p17A, p18, p18A, p19, p19A, p20, p20A, p21, p21A, p22, p22a, p23, p23A, p2, p24A, p25, p25A, p26, p26A and p27A, p27A.
     Thereafter, witnesses were taken which include, SanusiNuhu (pw 9) from Abba Na’shehu in Jos North,AbdullahiNagbagi (pw 10) from Yan ShanuNasarawGwon and AbdullahiHabibu from Rikkoswhoin the various paragraph in thedispositiorscomplained of mutilation of votes alteration and over voting.
     However, Lateef Fagbemi SAN objected to the taking of evidence of Baba Ali Adams AKA AAG (pw 12) and 3rd witness for today from Naraguta ‘A’ ward saying that the witness was listed on the list witnesses and made reference to paragraph 4 sub paragraph 5A of the 1st schedule to the Electoral Act which deals with contents of Election petitions Fagbemi position was adopted by other respondent counsels, (Dr. Oluyale Dalena (SAN) for the 1strespondent and Olusola Oke (SAN) for the 3rd respondent respectively.
     But in his response, Ozekhome said the objection was a gross misconception of the law, the Electoral Act, the Guidelines for the elections and the practice Direction of the count. He made reference to 4(5) (ii) of the 1st schedule saying that it means that once a petition is accepted by the registrar of the tribunal, it has to be taken as it is.
“The third witness has already deposed to an affidavit on the 13 April 2019 before the tribunal. The 3rd witness called himself AAQ because that’s what section 2 of the election petition tribunal practice direction stipulates that you can use figures, you can use alphabets or combination of both Alphabets & figures. This was actually made to safeguard and protect the identify of a witness we frontloaded the name as AAQ it is in pages 210 and 211 of our election petition. The respondents duly replied to the affidavit he files and the did not object to the use of his name being AAQ. And under the Electoral Act, the have fourteen days during the pre-trial conference to raise any preliminary objection so that the petitioners to respond. The did raise all their preliminary objection and replied to all of them and the pre trial session closed on 15thJune, 2019 after which the tribunal wrote a report concerning the pre-trial conference which we have been following diligently and you cannot after the window for fourteen days allowed for a pre-trial conference which has since been concluded spring from the blue and objection you never raisedbefore now to enable us respond to it”
     Ozekhome added that the court of Appeal decision referred to by 2nd respondent’s counsel was not applicable in this matteras the court of Appeal rejected the intention of bringing new witnesses who were not listed earlier in a petition but in the current case, the witness is listed, mentioned and frontloaded in page 210 of the petition. Finally, counsel referred the tribunal to section 36 of the 1999 constitution as amended stressing that if the witness is shut out will amount to infringement of this section of the constitution. In this regard, he urgethe tribunal to disregard the objection of the respondent counsels
The tribunal adjourned the matter to Monday 1st July, 2019 for ruling and continuation of hearing.

By Joseph A. Adudu
June 29, 2019

Hearing continued on Saturday in the Plateau State Governorship Election petition tribunal sitting at High Court 7, West of Mines Jos in the only petition filed by Senator Jeremiah TimbutUseni, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), against Rt. Hon Simon BakoLalong and the All Progressive Congress (APC).
          When the case file was called, counsel to the petitioners Mike Ozekhome (SAN) told the tribunal that he had additional document to tender. “My Lords, in accordance with paragraph 4 of the pre-hearing report dated 13 June, 2019, we had the 3rd badge of document we intend to rely to tendertoday 29 June 2019” said Ozekhome.
          The document counsel to petitioners sought to tender include:
1.     INEC duplicate copies of statement of results wiches from ECSA and certified true copies (CTC) of same by INEC for Gobi Rawa polling unit, voting point (vp) code 001 in Kwyambana ward registration area of Wase local Government pleaded at paragraph 127-134 and can be found at pages 54-56 all in vol. 1 of the petition.
2.     INEC duplicate copies of statement of results, from EC8A and the attached CTC thereof duly certified by INEC for the following polling units (pu) of wards in Jos North LGA,
a.     GadanAlasiri polling unit code 006ni Naraguta ‘A’ registration area pleaded at paragraph 57, 55 & 232 and can be found at pages 28 and 33 in vol 1 of the petition.
b.     Rikkos centre polling unit code 037 JosJarawa ward registration area also pleaded at paragraph 36 and at page 47 of the petition.
c.      Kasuwa Dare polling unit code 002 Naraguta ‘A’ ward registration area which can be found at paragraph 37 & 56 and at pages 28 and 33 of the petition.
d.     Yan shanu 3 polling unit code 002 Naraguta ‘A’ registration area pleaded at paragraph 37 and 232 of witness statement and at page 24 and 96 all in vol 1 of the petition.
e.      Community centre polling unit code 024 Ali Kazaure ward registration area pleaded at paragraphs 39 and 45 and pages 30 and 31 of vol 1 of the petition.
f.       Abdulsallami street polling unit code 001 Ali Kazaure ward registration area pleaded at paragraphs 39 and 42 and at page 49 vol 1 of the petition.
g.     Filin Ball polling unit code 027 Naraguta ‘A’ ward registration area pleaded at paragraph 37 and at page 49, vol 1 of the petition.
h.     Itiddsa polling unit code 034 Ali Kazaure ward registration area pleaded at paragraphs 36 and can be found at pages 46,vol 1 of the petition.
i.       Yan Kaji polling unit code 034 Ali Kazaure ward registration area pleaded at paragraphs 39, 46, and 232 and at pages 30, 31 and 107, vol 1 of the petition.
j.       Asibiti Kutare polling unit code 021 Ali Kazuare ward registration area pleaded at paragraph 43 and can be found at page 31, vol of the petition.
k.     School Lane polling unit code 006Abba Na’shehu ward registration area pleaded at paragraph 232 and can be found at page III, vol 1 of the petition.
l.       MassalachinJumma’a street 1 polling unit code 026Abba Na’shehu ward registration area pleaded at paragraph 38 and can be found at page 28 in vol.1 of the petition counsels to respondents reserved objections to be articulated in the final document.
Consequently, the document were admitted in evidence and marked as exhibit p15, p15A, p16, p16A, p17, p17A, p18, p18A, p19, p19A, p20, p20A, p21, p21A, p22, p22a, p23, p23A, p2, p24A, p25, p25A, p26, p26A and p27A, p27A.
     Thereafter, witnesses were taken which include, SanusiNuhu (pw 9) from Abba Na’shehu in Jos North,AbdullahiNagbagi (pw 10) from Yan ShanuNasarawGwon and AbdullahiHabibu from Rikkoswhoin the various paragraph in thedispositiorscomplained of mutilation of votes alteration and over voting.
     However, Lateef Fagbemi SAN objected to the taking of evidence of Baba Ali Adams AKA AAG (pw 12) and 3rd witness for today from Naraguta ‘A’ ward saying that the witness was listed on the list witnesses and made reference to paragraph 4 sub paragraph 5A of the 1st schedule to the Electoral Act which deals with contents of Election petitions Fagbemi position was adopted by other respondent counsels, (Dr. Oluyale Dalena (SAN) for the 1strespondent and Olusola Oke (SAN) for the 3rd respondent respectively.
     But in his response, Ozekhome said the objection was a gross misconception of the law, the Electoral Act, the Guidelines for the elections and the practice Direction of the count. He made reference to 4(5) (ii) of the 1st schedule saying that it means that once a petition is accepted by the registrar of the tribunal, it has to be taken as it is.
“The third witness has already deposed to an affidavit on the 13 April 2019 before the tribunal. The 3rd witness called himself AAQ because that’s what section 2 of the election petition tribunal practice direction stipulates that you can use figures, you can use alphabets or combination of both Alphabets & figures. This was actually made to safeguard and protect the identify of a witness we frontloaded the name as AAQ it is in pages 210 and 211 of our election petition. The respondents duly replied to the affidavit he files and the did not object to the use of his name being AAQ. And under the Electoral Act, the have fourteen days during the pre-trial conference to raise any preliminary objection so that the petitioners to respond. The did raise all their preliminary objection and replied to all of them and the pre trial session closed on 15thJune, 2019 after which the tribunal wrote a report concerning the pre-trial conference which we have been following diligently and you cannot after the window for fourteen days allowed for a pre-trial conference which has since been concluded spring from the blue and objection you never raisedbefore now to enable us respond to it”
     Ozekhome added that the court of Appeal decision referred to by 2nd respondent’s counsel was not applicable in this matteras the court of Appeal rejected the intention of bringing new witnesses who were not listed earlier in a petition but in the current case, the witness is listed, mentioned and frontloaded in page 210 of the petition. Finally, counsel referred the tribunal to section 36 of the 1999 constitution as amended stressing that if the witness is shut out will amount to infringement of this section of the constitution. In this regard, he urgethe tribunal to disregard the objection of the respondent counsels
The tribunal adjourned the matter to Monday 1st July, 2019 for ruling and continuation of hearing.

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