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Ogun: Tribunal dismisses PDP’s objection as counsel steps down subpoenaed witness

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The governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Abeokuta, the state capital, on Tuesday dismissed an objection raised by counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Gordy Uche, SAN, to the effect that under cross-examination, the petitioner’s witness must not be asked to compare  witness statement with statements made by other Petititoners’ statements not authored by the witness.

Counsel to the 1st Respondent(INEC) Dr Remi Olatubora, had put questions across to a witness called by the PDP, Hon. Aina Adewale, from Sagamu, based on the similarities of his witness statement with two others, Sowande Seun, from Sagamu and Ademola Adekunle, from Abeokuta North.

The similarities, according to INEC’s counsel were to the extent of word for word and omission for omission, hence, the need to question the witness thoroughly with the aim of ascertaining his veracity and accuracy.

However, in an objection to the application, the petitioner’s counsel said tribunal should not allow his witness to be questioned on documents which he did not author, quoting copiously section 67 of the evidence act and other decided authorities.

In his response, counsel to INEC, Olatubora, prayed the panel to discountenance the objection, arguing that points raised by the PDP’s counsel and his position on the points of law were irrelevant to the issue under review, relying on section 223 of the evidence act. He argued that the Evidence Act allows him to cross-examine a witness in any manner that tests the witness’ credibility and veracity.

He added that in line with the provision of that section of the evidence act and in line with the spirit and letter of the 1999 constitution, which places high premium on fair hearing, his position as the counsel to INEC confers the right on him to cross examine the witness to test his veracity and knowledge.

Adding to Olatubora’s position, Gov Abiodun’s lawyer, Professor Taiwo Osipitan SAN added that one of the statutory purposes of cross-examination is to discover who a witness is. He added that in that regard, asking a witness to compare his witness statement with the witness statements of other witnesses is allowed because it gives the witness the opportunity to explain why his evidence is completely the same with the evidence of a witness from somewhere else, while also giving the Tribunal to discover whether the witness is a copycat or other form of unreliable witness.

Counsel to APC, Otunba Kunle Kalejaiye submitted that PDP’s lawyer had not shown to the Tribunal whether the question asked of the witness was scandalous, immodest, offensive, or of any other nature prohibited by law. He joined the other lawyers to ask the Tribunal to overrule the objection.

The tribunal, therefore, overruled the objection raised by the counsel to PDP, making reference to its previous rulings on similar objections.

In another development, counsel to the PDP, was made to step down the appearance of a subpoenaed witness, a supposed INEC staff, who he claimed worked as a presiding officer during the March 18th governorship poll, after counsels to INEC raised objections to such testimony, citing the fact that the statement of the witness was only made yesterday and served on Respondents yesterday.

Trial continues in Abeokuta.

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Shaibu storms PDP secretariat for Certificate of Return, threatens legal action

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The crisis in PDP took a dramatic twist on Wednesday as Edo Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, stormed the party secretariat demanding issued the of certificate of return for winning Edo PDP gubernatorial primary election.

Mr Asue Ighodalo, equally as the candidate of the party in another primary held same day in the same city.

NAN further reports that Ighodalo was issued the certificate of return on Monday by the PDP National Working Committee (NWC).

The PDP acting National Chairman, Malam Umar Damagum, presented the certificate to Ighodalo at a ceremony at the party’ss National Secretariat at Wadata Plaza, Zone 5 Wuse, Abuja.

Damagum while presenting the certificate said that the party was united in its drive to retain the Edo governor’s seat.

According to him, “PDP is one and the party organised and recognised only the primary election which took place at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin and produced Ighodalo as its candidate.’’

Surprisingly, Shaibu came to the party secretariat insisting he was the authentic winner of the party primary for the election and should be issued the certificate of return.

He said it was not a surprise that he came for the certificate, as the PDP guidelines for Edo 2024 governorship primary, had approved Feb. 28 for the issuance of the certificate.

“Why I am here is to obey the guidelines to come and receive the certificate of return and I was told that somebody else came yesterday and was given the certificate.

“I think the court will tell among us who is the real candidate, but I am here in fulfillment of the electoral guidelines of the PDP to receive my certificate.

“I have a document here where those that conducted the primary submitted same to the office of the National Organising Secretary. From this document you will see the mess that took place in Edo.

“This primary cannot be put aside. I am ready for us to correct the abnormalities in the party’s internal democracy because that is the beginning of the sustenance of democracy in the country.

According to him, if the party does not get it right, the foundation of our democracy is already been threatened.

“We will not fold our hands and watch what we laboured for being destroyed. Some people died in the process,’’ he said.

Shaibu, who alleged that the party’s primary was compromised from the onset, demanding that all observed abnormalities must be corrected.

He also alleged that those who conducted his faction’s primary election submitted its report nut unfortunately were being threatened to re-write another report.

“This is a committee that was put together by the NWC. If the PDP is serious and ready to win Edo, they must do what is right.

“I am telling our members in Edo not to be worried; we will get to the promise land.

“Edo will be the place where we will reset how internal democracy can be strengthened so that the foundation of democracy is not destroyed,’’ he said.

Shaibu said he had earlier informed party leaders that he would go for his certificate of return, but was surprised that none of them was in the office except secretariat staff.

“I don’t know why they are not here. That is strange,’’ he said.

Shaibu said he would have no option than to go to court if the party leaders refuse to issue him the certificate of return as the party‘s candidate.

According to him, if the party internal mechanism is followed there will not be need to go to court.

“But, if the party is not ready to listen, the next line of action will be the judiciary, but I pray we don’t get there and that is why I came here today,’’ he said.

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Ortom expresses willingness to submit to probe of his administration

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By Titus Atondu, Makurdi

The immediate past Governor of Benue State, Chief Samuel Ortom has welcomed the inauguration of two Judicial Commissions by his successor, Governor Hyacinth Alia, to probe the activities of his administration between 2015 and 2023.

In a press statement signed by Terver Akase media Aide to the Ortom, the former Governor expressed his willingness to cooperate with the probe panels as long as the investigation is carried out in line with the law and stressed that his administration was built on transparency, accountability, and good governance.

He emphasised his readiness to provide any information or clarification, as may be required.

Chief Ortom also urged his former appointees to equally make themselves available whenever called upon to provide clarifications.

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Ortom, Suswam preach unity at PDP expanded caucus meeting

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By Titus Atondu, Makurdi

Immediate past governor of Benue State, Chief Samuel Ortom, former Governor of Benue State, Senator Gabriel Suswam and Senate minority leader, Senator Patrick Moro on Monday urged members of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), in Benue State to work for the unity of the party in the state.

The PDP leaders made the disclosure at the PDP expanded caucus meeting, held at the party’s Secretariat in Makurdi.

In his remark, Chief Ortom told party members that there was no friction between him, Senator Suswam and Senator Moro.

He urged PDP members to discountenace the rumors that he was decamping to the All Progressives Congress, APC.

Chief Ortom further said while members support those in authority at the state and federal level to provide dividends of democracy, they must not lose sight of the fact that they are PDP members, and must play their role as a credible and constructive opposition.

Earlier, Senator Suswam called on party members not to dwell on the mistakes of the past, but learn from the mistakes of the past in order for the party to move forward.

He stressed that leaders of the party in the state have closed ranks in order to build the party and ensure it returns back to power in 2027.

Senate Minority Leader, Senator Patrick Moro urged party members to remain steadfast and committed as the good old days of the party were coming back.

The Senate Minority Leader disclosed that those waiting to see quarrel between the PDP leaders in Benue State will be disappointed as Chief Ortom, Senator Suswam and himself have resolved to work together for the party.

He assured party members that the PDP was going to bounce back, adding that the leadership of the party was going to be returned to the people in line with the party’s slogan ‘power to the people.’

The governorship candidate of the PDP in the 2023 elections, Rt. Hon Titus Uba appreciated party members for finding him and his running mate, Sir John Ngbede, worthy to fly the Party’s flag, and added that the party needs to be united  to be a credible and formidable opposition.

The Minority Leader of the Benue State House of Assembly, Hon. Michael Audu, disclosed that members of the PDP in the State Assembly are united and ready to support the party anytime.

Chief David Amo, who spoke for Zone ‘A’, Elder Laha Dzever who spoke for Zone ‘B’ and Rt. Hon Hassan Saleh who spoke for Zone ‘C’ all stressed the need for party unity and expressed optimism with the fortunes of the party as leaders of the party have resolved to work together.

Former Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly and member of PDP Board of Trustees, Chief. Mrs. Margareth Icheen, Benue State Women Leader of the PDP, Mrs. Abeje Ewa, Idu Banke who spoke for the youths all commended the leaders of the party in the state for coming together to ensure the party returns to power in 2027.

The State Chairman of the party, Sir John Ngbede also announced vacancies for the position of National Ex-Officio from the state and Zonal Chairman of the PDP for Zone ‘B’ Senatorial

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