Parties in the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its governorship candidate in the August 9 governorship election in the State of Osun, Senator Iyiola Omisore, have agreed to streamline the number of their witnesses to meet up with the requirement of concluding the hearing of the petition within 180 days.
Omisore and PDP as the first and second petitioners respectively, are challenging the re-election of Governor Rauf Aregbesola and his party, All Progressives Congress (APC) as first and second respondents, just as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is joined as third respondent.
Counsel to the petitioner, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, at the continued pre-hearing of the petition indicated the intention of his clients to reduce the numbers of their witnesses from 1,000 to 500.
Also, counsel to Aregbesola, Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN, indicated to streamline number of his 600 witnesses appropriately, just as counsel to the APC, Mr Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, said his 605 witnesses would also be reduced after the close of petitioners’ case.
Counsel to the INEC, Mr Ayotunde Ogunleye also told the court that he has listed 18 witnesses.
All the respondents’ counsel also informed the court that some of the evidence of the petition would be allowed to be tendered by consent, while some would be disputed.
Earlier, the tribunal had ruled that the preliminary objection raised against the petition by the respondents in the matter would be heard along with the substantive suit.
The tribunal chairman, Justice Elizabeth Ikpejime said the preliminary objections of the respondents are still pending and subsisting, but would be heard later in the course of the hearing to allow parties to ventilate their grievances.
According to her, the respondents had nothing to lose if the objections were heard in the course of hearing, saying, this would rather guarantee substantial justice for the parties.
She stated that the ruling did not mean that the preliminary objections had been struck out, adding, “it only means that the applications are still pending and would be heard later”.
Besides, the tribunal also adjourned till November 6, for ruling on the request of the Accord Party governorship candidate, Mr Niyi Owolade that the preliminary objection against his petition too should also be heard along with his petition.