There were hot arguments before the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal on Tuesday, 2nd December, 2014 as counsel to Governor Rauf Aregbesola, All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) disagreed with the procedure adopted by counsel to Senator Iyiola Omisore in tendering the ballot papers used for the August 9 governorship election in the state.
Omisore and the PDP are challenging the re-election of Aregbesola before the Justice Elizabeth Ikpejime-led tribunal.
Sequel to the application of the petitioners’ legal team, the tribunal had issued a Subpoena duces tecum (to produce documents) on the INEC to produce the original ballot papers used for the election and the INEC, in compliance produced them on Monday, 1st December, 2014.
At the resumed hearing of the petition on Tuesday, 2nd December, 2014, the petitioners’ counsel, Dr Alex Izinyon (SAN) sought to tender the ballot papers through “a forensic expert witness”, Mr Pius Bakare as claimed by the petitioners by asking him to open the sacks containing the ballot papers.
This approach drew stiff reactions from Aregbesola’s counsel, Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN), who kicked against the procedure, saying the witness could not even look at the documents because he was not an INEC official who produced them.
He said the INEC official who were directed to produce the document ought to be called to identify the document he had produced.
Similar arguments were canvassed by counsel to the APC, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) and counsel to the INEC, Ayotunde Ogunleye who argued that the procedure of the petitioners were unknown to law.
They argued that the petitioners’ counsel have failed to use the opportunity of Subpoena duces tecum ad testificandum, to direct the INEC officials to produce the document and give evidence on them.
Subsequently, the tribunal judges intervened and asked respondents to seath their sword on the matter by allowing the witness to look at them and tender through him.
However, another argument ensued when the respondent counsel insisted that if the witness would be allowed to tender them, the entire sacks containing the ballot papers must be opened to allow them see the contents of the sacks.
Sequel to this insistence, the tribunal judges intervene again and suggested that to avoid wasting of time, the respondents should take the sacks as they were and make any objection they have on whatever they saw.
In objecting to the admissibility of the sacks of the ballot papers however, the respondents’, Olujinmi, Osinbajo and Ogunleye canvassed that if the documents are indeed ballot paper as claimed, the witness was not a competent witness to tender them.
They argued that the petition has never told the court that he was the maker of the documents, saying, since he was not the maker or the person in custody of the documents, he could not tender them.
The tribunal however reserve ruling on the admissibility of the ballot papers used in all the 17 local governments being challenged, but marked them as exhibits before the court.
Earlier, the petitioners’ counsel had sought to tender the report of the forensic inspection and the non-certified specimen of the ballot papers allegedly used to prepared the report, but the respondents’ counsel objected to its admissibility on the ground that it was a computer-generated evidence.
Such documents without certificate and evidence that the device used to produce them were working properly, according to them, were inadmissible.
They said to show that the report was a computer-generated evidence, the witness had said in his written statement that he used electronic devices to process the documents.
On the uncertified ballot papers, the respondents’ counsel argued that since it is public documents, they ought to have been certified by the INEC for it to be admissible.
The petitioners’ counsel also sought to tender the purpoted Certified True Copies (CTC) of the lists of adhoc INEC staff deployed for the election.
The respondents counsel also objected to the admissibility of the documents, but reserved their objections till the address stages.
The tribunal marked all the documents sought to be tendered as exhibits, but reserve ruling on their admissibility till the judgment stage.