By Sylvester Imonina, Esq.
Yesterday, I saw a ludicrous and jaundiced write-up of one Aruviere Martin Egharhevwa, Esq. wherein he was pontificating on the rock-solidness of Senator Omo-Agege’s Petition that is pending before the Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal. Ordinarily, I would not have bothered myself to write or say a word about the ill-conceived sophistries displayed by him to give hopeless hope to APC followers but for the sake of some gullible Deltans, hence my reaction herein.
For those familiar with recent history, it will be remembered that sometime ago, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege in his usual style boasted that he wrote the Electoral Act, 2022 and that he was going to teach Delta State Peoples Democratic Party, PDP a lesson with it. As a result, after he was given a rout by Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori and PDP during the 2023 Governorship Election, he ran to the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal where he predicated his petition on the illusion that he was rigged out in over three thousand (3000) polling Units.
Basking on his “know it all” about the Electoral Act, 2022, he confined and laced his petition with presumptuous hope by relying heavily on Section 137 of the said Act by front loading dead and sleeping documents, and evidence of only two witnesses. Unfortunately for Omo-Agege, the erudite Supreme Court Justices gave a recent judgement in Oyetola’s case wherein the learned Justices posited that where allegations of non compliance with the Electoral Act are made and/or where issues of election malpractices are raised, it is the responsibility of the Petitioner to call witnesses from the polling Units where those non compliances and malpractices took place.
It is noteworthy that it was only two witnesses that were called by Omo-Agege in his purported bid to prove his petition and from available information, the said witnesses could not speak life into the sleeping documents tendered and covering over three thousand polling Units. In fact, it dawned on Omo-Agege that the documents tendered by him do not enjoy the Supreme Court authority of Dickson Vs Silva and others reported in (2017) Vol. 266 LRCN, Page 155 at pages 193, 194, 196 and 226; ratios 5, 7 and 18. The law is that documents must not be dumped on the Court but must be demonstrated by linking them to specific aspects of Party’s case. In fact, by Oyetola’s case, Omo-Agege found himself in a legal cul-de-sac. What a pity!
And in a bid to salvage his petition, Omo-Agege filed two applications before the Tribunal. One of the applications was for the Tribunal to compel an INEC witness to depose to a written statement on oath in support of his petition (Omo-Agege’s Petition), and the second application was for him to call an expert witness to give evidences on facts that were not pleaded in his petition. The Judex in her wisdom and considered ruling dismissed the two applications for been abuse of judicial processes. On the long run, Omo-Agege closed his case and the Respondents opened their defences.
While INEC only tendered certified true copies of relevant materials used during the election, the PDP called a sole witness and Oborevwori did not call any witness.
It should be noted that there is no law that compels a Defendant or Respondent that he must call a witness and/or even defend a case against him. More so, when the Defendant feels that there is no case made out by the Plaintiff/Petitioner. I would not be surprised that the Respondents’ Counsel saw so many yawning gaps in Omo-Agege petition/evidence, hence the position they took which I feel was/is the best position.
For further clarification on the position of the Respondents legal team, I want to share an experience with the public. About 14 years ago, I had a case before a Court in Warri. After the Plaintiff had called two witnesses, on behalf of the Defendant whom I appeared for, I rested my case/defence on the case of the Plaintiff. The Judex was surprised at my position. However, after x-raying all the legal points raised by the defence, the Court threw away the case of the Plaintiff for lacking in merit.
Without prejudice to the outcome of the petition of Omo-Agege against Sheriff Oborevwori, I honestly believe that the Respondents’ legal teams, calling a witness and tendering of documents was/is an overkill, considering the quantum/scanty evidences presented by the Petitioner.
As earlier said, it was not my intention to join issues with Aruviere Martin Egharhevwa, Esq. and his sponsors. What I have done herein is my little contribution to the enlightenment of Deltans on what I feel they should know so that no one would use them to foment trouble at the end of the day.
I pray Deltans to exercise patience and trust the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in doing justices to all petitions pending before it. I honestly believe that the will of Deltans will prevail over the will of those who want to enter Government House, Asaba, by hook or crook.