Att:Editor from Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
Over 700 witnesses are expected to testify at the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Makurdi as definite hearing in the petition of the All Progressives Congress, APC governorship candidate in Benue Barr. Emmanuel Jime against Governor Samuel Ortom commence on 8th July, 2019.
Prior to the continuation of hearing today, learned Senior Advocates for the respective parties met to decide on the direction of hearing and made suggestions.
Yusuf Ali SAN, who led the team of Jime’s counsels addressed the Honourable Tribunal on behalf of the Bar.
According to Ali, the suggestions are aimed at easing the work of the honourable tribunal as well as reduce tension on the parties.
He acknowledged that the jurisdiction of the panel had been enlarged to cover National/State Assembly election matters and suggested that Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursday and Fridays be set aside for hearing in the petition.
The learned senior counsel for the petitioners also suggested that on sitting days, proceedings commence at 9am with break at 1pm to resume at 3pm and close at 6pm on each sitting day.
“Even though the petitioners listed 387 witnesses, due to the exigencies of time we are going ro reduce it to 200. We know the facts of this matter. We are also proposing that for the evidence in chief, five minutes be allocated; ten minutes for cross examination and three minutes for re-examination.
“That Your Lordships will give us the next two to three days for lawyers to inspect documents that are to be tendered so that at the stage of tendering them it will be seamless. This exercise should start 8am daily until it finishes and that Your Lordships should direct that a member of the registry should be present.
“That all the documents that are consented to are tendered from the Bar. And that the proper hearing of this matter will start on Monday, 8th July, 2019. All other issues will be taken care of in the course of the proceedings.
“May I appreciate my colleagues on the other side; this is the spirit. I appreciate Your Lordships for your understanding,” Ali said.
Counsel for INEC Rotimi Osunego said
“I confirm on behalf of the 1st Respondent that we had that discussion and that the terms set out by the learned senior counsel for the petitioners are indeed the terms. Prudence will detect the course we will take. But I can assure you that on our part we cannot do anything that will be out of the ordinary or that which will delay this matter,” Rotimi said.
Sabastine Hon SAN, also confirmed the development. “I confirm that that is our agreement. We have listed 387 witnesses.
“The law is that it is up to the petitioners to prove their case . We will watch them. But we will take our statutory ten days,” Hon told the Honourable Tribunal.
In his ruling, chairman of the panel Hon Justice Adebola Olusiyi granted the suggestions as prayed.
Hon Justice Olusiyi commended learned senior counsels for the parties for agreeing “on key terms for a seamless hearing.”
He therefore ordered that “definite hearing of the petition shall commence on 8th June, 2019. The expanded prehearing notice is hereby issued and Certified True copies (CTCs) shall be issued to the parties.”