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Delta Guber: My Witness Has Turned Hostile, Ogboru Tells Tribunal

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BEVERLY HILLS, August 31, (THEWILL) – As the Delta State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal continues its sitting in Asaba, the State capital, Monday, the Labour Party (LP) and its governorship candidate in the April 14 governorship election, Chief Great Ogboru, told the tribunal that their star witness in the case had suddenly turned hostile.

The tribunal had subpoenaed the Head of Department, General Administration and Procurement, in the Asaba head office of the Independent National Election Commission (INEC), Mr. Felix Enabor, to give evidence in the petition filed by Ogboru and LP, over the conduct of the governorship election in the state.

However, no sooner than Enabor mounted the witness box and his written statement and other documents were admitted by the tribunal as exhibits, that Ogboru's counsel, Mr. Robert Emukpoeruo, instead of going ahead with the examination of the witness, raised the alarm by way of a motion, urging the tribunal to label Enabor as a hostile witness.

Emukpoeruo, in justifying his motion, argued that some paragraphs in the witness deposition were “animus” , and injurious to the petitioners.

Reacting to the new development, counsel to governor Okowa, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and INEC , Dr. Alex Izyion (SAN), Mr. Timothy Kehinde (SAN) and Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) respectively, vehemently opposed the motion.

While describing the move as “very basal and unknown to law ,” arguing that section 230 of the Evidence Act has not been complied with, Izyon noted that the request to label the witness as hostile and animus is not automatic as it cannot be invoked.

According to Izyon, “the petitioner is the one providing the witness upon an application, it is his witness, where the procedure is by deposition, particularly if the witness is adverse to his cases particularly to election petition, they have taken a gamble, they either swim or sink with the witness they have called.”

He also argued that Enabor had not made another statement that contradicted the one he deposed to in court that will amount to contradiction, hence there was no need to brand him a hostile witness.

“The tribunal is guided by law, not by sentiment, we are bound by the rules of the procedure, the witness has adopted, so they are bound by it,” Izyon said.

In his submission, counsel to PDP, Mr. Timothy Kehinde (SAN), said “we shall be opposing this application to treat the witness as hostile,” adding “The condition precedent for the tribunal to exercise such decision has not been met.”

Kehinde argued that the position of the petitioner that they do not have any input in the evidence of the witness, according to him, is nothing but suggestive of the fact that they have no opportunity to coerce the witness into committing perjury.

He said the fact that the witness is not giving the petitioner a favorable evidence does not mean that he was hostile, adding that, before the application can be granted, there must be evidence that a contrary statement has been made by the witness and he must be asked whether he has made such statement for the records.

Arguing in the same vein, counsel to INEC, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), opposed the application, saying it has no basis as provided for under section 230 of the evidence act , that the petitioner relied upon for the application , hence the tribunal has no facts before it upon which to grant the application.

Tribunal chairman, Justice Gunmi, however reserved ruling on the motion, for Tuesday after listening to the arguments of all the counsel.