The Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Benin City has ruled against a bid by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, to introduce fresh evidence independent of those deposited by their principal witness (PW 13), Alhaji Mohammed Shaibu.
Mohammed, a native of Okugbe-Okpella, Etsako East Local Government Area had said earlier in his deposition that his complaints stemmed from issues of accreditation alone, but during cross-examination, he said: “I voted in unit nine and no voter was accredited via the voters’ register. I complained,” he said.
When asked if he would be surprised to see that his name was not on the voters’ register, he declaimed with confidence, “My name is there.”
Continuing, he said: “I agree that I must accredit before I vote and anyone who is not registered in a particular polling unit cannot vote there.”
However, when shown the voters’ register of unit 9 where he claimed he voted, he expressed shock, as he was unable to find his name.
The only Mohammed on the list in question belonged to one Mohammed Awosetu.
Nevertheless, the petitioners’ counsel, Denwigwe (SAN) defended his client’s witness, arguing that he was a registered voter who voted on the election day while asking the witness to tender his voters’ card in court as evidence.
The defendants’ counsel, Mr. Tunji Oyeyipo, however countered the attempt to ask the witness to tender his voters’ card as evidence of voting after agreeing that his name was not found in the voters’ register because it was a fresh case, and said that it should be rejected by the court since it was not pleaded in the witness deposition.
In a short ruling, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice A. T Badamasi, said it was trite law and an attempt to introduce fresh issues.
According to the court, “He could not point his name in the voters’ register. The petitioner could have raised the issues in their pleadings. It is our view that your plea is lacking in merit and it is hereby refused.”