Update: Tribunal Stops Omisore From Tendering Duplicate Documents

scales-of-justiceThe Osun Governorship election petition tribunal on Monday refused the application by Senator Iyiola Omisore to tender duplicate copies of electoral documents from the bar.

At the beginning of hearing of his petition against the declaration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola as the winner of August 9, 2014 governorship election, Justice Elizabeth Ikpejime delivered the ruling of the Tribunal which insisted that only Certified True Copies (CTCs) of election documents could be tendered from the bar.

Dr. Alex Izinyon, SAN, leading counsel to Omisore had, at the opening of hearing which was the first of 14 days allocated to the petitioner to make his case, sought to begin tendering of documents rather than calling witnesses for oral testimony before the Tribunal.

In furtherance of this, Izinyon who led two other Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Titus Ashaolu and Nathaniel Oke,  told the Tribunal that the petitioner was ready to tender Certified True Copies of Form EC.8A as well as duplicate copies of election results for individual polling units through the bar.

This application, he hinged on the need to save time arguing that objections to admissibility of duplicate copies could be taken at a later stage of the hearing adding that there were a plethora of authorities to back his position.

Reminded by the Tribunal Chairman that parties had agreed at pre-trial session that certified true copies would be tendered through the bar and with consent of parties, Izinyon insisted that his suggestion was just the difference between six and half of a dozen that  made to save time and assist the Tribunal in achieving speedy hearing of the petition.

Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN immediately raised objection to Izinyon’s application wondering why the silk was trying to take a step that was unknown to Nigerian law.

The silk maintained that Nigeria’s Evidence Act did not provide for tendering of duplicate copies of documents from the bar but could only be tendered through a witness in the witness box.

Describing Omisore’s application as strange, the silk said “My approach is that there is no problem with Certified True Copies of documents but in regard to duplicate copies, we have no record that in the Evidence Act, it can be tendered from the Bar. There is no law backing the tendering of duplicate copies from the Bar”

Olujinmi’s position was adopted by leading counsel to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Rotimi Akederedolu SAN, and that of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Ayotunde Ogunleye .

Justice Ikpejime then delivered the ruling of the Tribunal ordering that CTC of documents be tendered from the bar while duplicate copies of documents should be tendered through the witness box as contained in the report of the pre-trial session.

Izinyon proceeded to tell the panel that Omisorre was ready to begin tendering Form EC. 8A for seven Polling Units in Otun Balogun Ward of  Ayedaade Local Government.

When it was clear that the documents he sought to tender would need to be vetted by Aregbesola’s counsel, APC and INEC, the SAN applied that the Tribunal should retire for parties to consult.

Izinyon said “If your Lordships can just retire, we can put heads together so that it won’t be a case of respondents claiming to see the documents for the first time”.

Olujinmi and other respondents’ counsel agreed to this position and the Tribunal rose at exactly 9.30 am after which Izinyon and his team crossed over to the respondents side to begin the verification and vetting of documents to be tendered by consent of parties.

The silks then called the attention of the Registrar of the Tribunal to inform the panel members of their decision on how to continue the process.

At exactly 10.48 am, all the senior counsel of the petitioners and the respondents were invited into the Judges Chambers to brief them on their agreed mode of tendering of CTCs of documents.

The process was ongoing as at the time of filing this report.