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OYO GUBER POLL PETITION: TRIBUNAL REJECTS 'EXHIBITS'

By NBF News
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Moves by Oyo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to quash the election of Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), based on alleged dual citizenship suffered a setback yesterday. The Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in the state rejected two documents the party sought to present as exhibits to reinforce its case.

The tribunal ruled that the documents- a letter written by the PDP counsel to the Minister of External Affairs requesting for a document indicating that Ajimobi is an American citizen, in addition to being a Nigerian and the reply from the ministry, were inadmissible.

Lead counsel to the petitioner, Mr. Nathaniel Oke (SAN), had tried to submit the contentious documents after they were identified by a witness, Alhaji Bashiru Akanbi, the State Secretary of PDP.

But the attempt developed into a controversy between Oke and the lead counsel to Ajimobi and ACN, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), who vehemently opposed it.

Oke had earlier pleaded with the tribunal to accept them as exhibits 'E' and 'F' adding that the documents were connected to certain documents enumerated in the petition. He said the documents were meant to show that efforts were made to get the USA American Passport and social security certificate of Ajimobi.

But, Akeredolu countered the move, arguing that the letters were not admissible because they were not covered by the pleading before the tribunal and that there was no reference to them in the petition.

Akeredolu further stated that the documents were made during the pendency of the petition, that is on August 22 2011, when the filing of the petition had elapsed. He said that the presentation of the document offended section 91 sub-section 3 of the Evidence Act and so should be rejected by the tribunal.

Lead counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Alhaji Ahmed Raji, aligned with Akeredolu.

Raji argued that the witness had risked being sued for perjury. This remark, however, drew the anger of the PDP counsel, (Oke), who cautioned the INEC counsel against intimidating his witness. In its ruling read by its chairman, Justice Abdulkadir Pindiga, the three-man panel, rejected the documents, supholding the defendant's argument that they were not admissible.

All the parties later closed their cases, while the tribunal adjourned the matter till October 10, 2011 for the adoption of the written addresses by the lawyers.