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Friday 1 February 2019

Election Tribunal: Why INEC ordered rerun in Osun, by witness

Election Tribunal: Why INEC ordered rerun in Osun, by witness

* Says PDP agreed to a rerun

The Osun State Governorship Election Tribunal heard on Friday what informed the decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to order a rerun in the last governorship election in the state.

The State Collation Officer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the election, Adegboyega Rasaki Adeosun told the tribunal that the rerun, to which the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) consented, was informed by the need to comply with the law and to avert the disenfranchisement of many registered voters in the state.

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Adeosun said, after the collation of all the results, INEC’s Returning Officer (RO) for the state explained to parties’ representatives, at the collation centre, why a rerun was necessary.

Adeosun, who testified as a witness of the second respondent (Adegboyega Oyetola) in the petition by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Senator Ademola Adeleke, said the RO was moved to directing a rerun because the margin between the scores of the two leading candidates was less than the number of registered votes in the seven polling units where elections were voided.

The witness said the RO explained to all present, including the representatives of other participating political parties, including the PDP, that it would not be right to disenfranchise the large number of registered voters in the affected polling units.

Adeosun, who was Oyetola’s 11th witness, and the only one on Friday, said the PDP, whose agent was present at the collation centre, did not object to the RO’s announcement, which informed why all representatives of all the parties endorsed the document.

The PDP and its candidate, Adeleke are contesting the outcome of the election won by Oyetola, the candidate of the APC.

Adeosun, under cross-examination by lawyer to INEC, Adesina Agbede, said: “At the State Collation Centre, when the Local Government Collation officers came to report Local Government by Local Government, the LG Returning Officers gave explanations on what happened at some polling units and said the results could not be finalised.

“That led to the cancellation of the results of these polling units. At the point of aggregation of all results from the 30 LGAs, the RO of the state informed us that the number of voters in these polling units exceed the margin between the scores of the two leading candidates- the second petitioner and the second respondent.

“The margin showed that difference is small compared with the number of the registered voters, and they cannot be disenfranchised. All the party agents were there as reflected by those who signed the Form EC8D,” the witness said.

Adeosun said he stood by all he said in his written statement, which he earlier adopted before the tribunal.

The witness said he voted on the day of election after he was duly accredited. He said he did not vote during the rerun election because the rerun did not take place in his polling unit.

Earlier, at the commencement proceedings, Oyetola’s lawyer, Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN) told the tribunal that Adeosun was one of the second respondent’s key witnesses.

Owonikoko led Adeosun to adopt his written statement and tendered result sheets from some Local Governments, through him.

Some of the Local Government Areas are: Egebdore, Ife Central, Ejigbo, Ede South, Ede North, Irepodun, Boripe, Ayedaade, Isokan, Ilesa East, Ife East, Obokun, Ayedire and Oriade.

While being cross-examined by APC’s lawyer, Lasun Sanusi (SAN), Adeosun said he was trained, with others, by INEC, before the election. He said he was trained at the state level.

The witness said, at the training, they were shown how to correct discrepancies in recordings in the result sheets and other documents.

He identified a copy of the INEC guideline when it was shown to him. He also read from page 12, paragraph 33 M of the guideline, which stipulates the procedure by which discrepancies could be corrected.

On whether he noticed any discrepancies, the witness said, when he went through polling unit results that were submitted to him. “I discovered, along with the polling unit agents, that there were discrepancies in the total number of votes cast, which exceeded the total number of accredited voters. And we saw that in 85 polling units.”

He said when the discrepancies were corrected; the correction was signed by all the representatives of the political parties, including the PDP.

Under cross-examination by petitioners’ lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), Adeosun said he did not know who effected the cancellation in the result sheets identified as: Form EC8A, EC8B and EC8C, because he was not at the LG collation centre.

The witness also said he was not present at all the polling units while the election was on. He said he was only at his polling unit, where he voted, during the election, but went to the state collation centre after the election.

The witness said presiding officers from the polling units were not allowed at the state collation centre. He said it was only presiding officers from the LGs who came to submit the results.

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The witness said polling agents were not present when the decision was taken to cancel the results from the seven polling units in which rerun were conducted.

Adeosun said he did not serve as a polling unit agent on the day of the rerun election. He said he was not at any polling unit, because his polling unit was not affected.

At the conclusion of Adeosun’s testimony, Owonikoko applied for an adjournment. He said his client intends to call a minimum of four more witnesses, including those subpoenaed, including election observers.

Owonikoko prayed the court to adjourn to February 5 to enable the 2nd respondent prepare its witnesses.

Other lawyer in the case did not object to Owonikoko’s application, following which tribunal Chairman, Justice Ibrahim Sirajo adjourned to February 5 for the second defendant to conclude his case.

Justice Sirajo, with the assurance from Sanusi (lawyer to the third respondent) announced that the APC will open its case on February 6.

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