The Osun Election Petitions Tribunal has fixed October 13 for the hearing of all preliminary motions arising from petitions filed by the State Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, against the declaration of Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the governor-elect.
It approved the new date for the hearing after listening to arguments from counsels to the petitioner, the governor-elect, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and after the parties agreed to a new date within the law.
Following the agreement of counsel on both sides to return to court after all parties might have filed any application and reply, the tribunal Chairman, Justice Tertsea Kume, Tuesday, adjourned the case to next Thursday for a hearing.
Before the adjournment, Oyetola’s counsel, Lasun Sanusi, had told the court that his response to pre-hearing form had been filed and issues had been formulated for the Tribunal to determine.
He told the court that counsel for both petitioners and respondents had agreed on the time for examination, cross-examination, and re-examination of witnesses, with a view to ensuring that the hearing is not unnecessarily prolonged.
“We have both agreed that examination of witnesses should take five minutes, cross-examination 10 minutes, and re-examination five minutes. For expert witnesses, examination for 15 minutes, cross-examination 20 minutes, and re-examination is five minutes”.
He also told the tribunal that counsel for the two parties have agreed that the panel should sit on the matter between Monday and Friday, while all pieces of evidence to prove the case should be tendered by consent, and should there be any objection, the ruling would be reserved till the final judgement stage.
Counsels to INEC, Paul Ananaba, PDP, Alex Izinyon, and Adeleke’s lawyer, Kehinde Ogunwumiju, agreed to the scheduling of the hearing as listed by the petitioners’ counsel.
Respondents’ counsels one after the other also told the court that they had filed responses to pre-hearing form served on them by the tribunal.
On the number of witnesses to be called, the petitioners’ counsel said he has more than enough quality witnesses and would be willing to forgo the calling of some of them as the case proceeds, with a view to saving the time of the tribunal.
Subsequently, counsel for the respondents informed the tribunal of his intention to move some preliminary applications which have just been filed, but the petitioners’ counsel said he should be allowed to respond to any application filed.
The petitioners’ counsel further said, “the era of frivolous ambush in election matter is gone. You cannot ambush me. We have five days to reply but we won’t exhaust that time. And even as contained in the Electoral Act, you do not have any right to object because your objections are all contained in the petition.
Addressing journalists after the sitting, the petitioners’, Sanusi, said, “I am very pleased with the process. We are still in pre-hearing stage and it takes 14 days. So, we are still within pre-hearing. They raised the objections and we even said their objections by law, they can’t raise it because the law says, put it in your reply to the petition. We are firmly on course”.