Contrary to the allegations that Governor Rauf Aregbesola and All Progressive Congress (APC) were dragging the hearing of the petition before the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate, Senator Iyiola Omisore have sought the adjournment of the hearing to Monday, 10th November, 2014 as they were not ready for the process.
It would be recalled that Omisore and the PDP, who are challenging the re-election of Aregbesola and APC have accused the respondents of using delay tactics for the hearing of the petition.
At the sitting of the tribunal on Thursday, 6th November, 2014 when the panel was set to start hearing and the respondents have also indicated to move on, the petitioners’ counsel, Mr Nathaniel Oke (SAN) applied that the matter should be adjourned.
As if he was truly ready, Oke said: “My Lords, we are ready to open our case, since the pre-hearing has been closed by your Lordship”.
Subsequently, the tribunal chairman, Justice Elizabethe Ikpejime responded, “we are ready now to begin hearing you can call your witnesses now”.
The petitioners’ counsel quickly made a u-turn and applied for the adjournment till Monday, 10th November, 2014, saying, “we don’t want to open our case now and after calling two or three witnesses we will be asking for adjournment. We want adjournment till Monday”.
This application was opposed by counsel to Aregbesola, Mr Kunle Adegoke who argued that the application was purely in conflict with the allegation of the PDP that the respondents in the matter are trying to delay the hearing of the matter.
He said: “We have been harrased so much in the media by the petitioners that we are trying to delay the proceeding, but you can see now that they are the one dragging us back.
“The tribunal is ready, we are also ready, but it is the petitioners that are not ready. In fact we are here with our own witnesses and the documents we want to tender”.
Counsel to the APC, Mr Aderemi Abimbola also associated with the objection of Aregbesola counsel, requesting for a N500,000 cost against the petitioners.
Subsequently, the tribunal granted the application for adjournment till Monday, November 10.
Earlier, the panel had read the scheduling order to be followed during hearing, directing that 20 minutes would be alloted for cross-examination of each witness, while Certified True Copies (CTC) document would be tendered by consent.
Objections on uncertified document, according to the tribunal, would be taken in the course of hearing, but rulings on them would be delivered in the final judgment.
Meanwhile, three issues that have been formulated by the tribunal out of the issues raised by the parties are whether the tribunal has jurisdiction to entertain the matter and whether the election was vitiated by reason of corrupt practices, irregularity and substantial non-compliance with the provision of the Electoral Act and manual for the conduct of the election.
Other issue is whether the first respondent was validly returned as a candidate who polled the majority of lawful votes at the election.
In line with Paragraph 41(10) of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act, the tribunal said the petitioners have 14 days to present their case, while the repondents have 10 days each to defend.
The tribunal then directed that its attention should be drawn to the preliminary objections of the respondents and profer arguments in the final addresses, saying, decision would be taken firstly on the competence and jurisdictional matter at the final judgement before determining the merit of the case.