Prospective Witnesses Threatened with Death, Ozekhome Tells Plateau Tribunal

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Seriki Adinoyi in Jos

Lead counsel to the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general election in Plateau State, Mr. Mike Ozekhome (SAN) has revealed that the witnesses they sought to call were being threatened with instant death if they should testify in the election matter.

The party’s candidate, Senator Jeremiah Useni, had gone to the election petition tribunal to challenge the electoral victory of Governor Simon Lalong who was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Ozekhome urged the tribunal to take the death threat seriously as the witnesses confided in him and the petitioners that they would meet their death summarily should they come to testify against the governor and the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The counsel cited the case of one man from Jos North Local Government Area (LGA) who testified in the election matter of 2015.

He recalled that the person’s house was burnt and he relocated with his family to a hotel in Jos.

“I want to draw the attention of the honourable tribunal to the sad and deadly incident of what happened to the witness after his testimony which did not go down well with some people,” Ozekhome said.

It was at this juncture that counsel to Lalong, Mr. Pius Akubo (SAN) raised an objection, describing the alleged threat to life as frivolous and preposterous, adding that nobody was threatening any person’s life and that the matter should go on if they were ready to produce further witnesses.

At the end of arguments and counter-arguments, the tribunal chairman, Justice Haleemat Salman, allowed Ozekhome to speak.

Ozekhome said that he was above 60years of age and 38 years in the bar, adding that as the leader of his team, the case is theirs and they would not want to waste the tribunal’s precious time. “If we waste time within our time we will regret it. I don’t know why somebody should cry more than the bereaved,” he added.

Thereafter, he continued calling the witnesses as he had 15 more to call, having called 66 witnesses earlier.