Ekiti election petition tribunal postpones hearing of suits by SDP candidates

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The Ekiti State Election Petition Tribunal on Wednesday adjourned to September 15 to give room to parties before it to respond to applications already filed at the registry.

The Chairman of the three-member tribunal, Justice Wilfred Kpochi, adjourned sitting in a short ruling after being informed by all Counsel to the parties of several applications waiting to be moved.

The ruling came after the petitioner and candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Segun Oni had adopted the pre-hearing information sheet earlier filed before the Tribunal.

Respondents in the suit are the Governor-elect, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji (1st), All Progressives Congress (2nd), Mai Mala Buni and APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (3rd), Independent National Electoral Commission (4th) and the Deputy Governor-elect, Mrs. Monisade Afuye (5th).

The tribunal was told that Oyebanji, Oni, the APC, Buni, CECPC and Afuye had filed various applications which are pending at the Tribunal Registry and must be responded to.

The state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Olawale Fapohunda (SAN) told the panel that he attended the sitting out of courtesy and respect for the tribunal and wishes them a fruitful sitting.

The SDP candidate, Oni’s pre-hearing information sheet dated September 2 was adopted by his counsel, Obafemi Adewale (SAN).

Counsel to the 1st and 5th Respondents, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), Counsel to the 2nd Respondent, Lasun Sanusi (SAN); Counsel to the 3rd Respondent, Shaibu Aruwa (SAN) and Counsel to the 4th Respondent, Charles Edosomwan (SAN) all moved and adopted their answers in response to the petitioners’ pre-hearing information sheet.

After consultations with the two other judges on the panel, Justice S.I. Zadawa and Justice J.A. Atsen, the Chairman, Justice Kpochi adjourned sitting to September 15 in view of the pending applications.

He said: “There are several pending applications which have to be responded to, therefore the tribunal will adjourn to September 15.”

Before the three-member panel of judges commenced proceedings, Counsel to all parties had met outside the courtroom on modalities to be adopted to ensure seamless hearing and determination of the petition within the time allowed by the law.

The issues agreed to by all the Counsels were conveyed to the Tribunal by Fagbemi, which he emphasized were all subject to the convenience and approval of the panel.

The lawyers said they had agreed that during the course of the hearing, examination-in-chief for ordinary witnesses would take five minutes, cross-examination would take 10 minutes and re-examination would take three minutes each.

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They also proposed a time frame of fifteen minutes for star/expert witnesses, and fifteen minutes for their cross-examination while their re-examination would take three minutes.

They equally suggested that sittings on Mondays to Thursdays should commence at 9.30am and end at 5pm with a break allowed between 1.30pm and 2.30pm while on Friday, a break should be observed between 1pm and 3pm to allow Muslims attend Jumat prayers.

Party supporters thronged the premises of the Ekiti State High Court complex to witness the sitting of the tribunal.

SDP candidate, Oni filed the petition at the tribunal having expressed dissatisfaction with the return of Oyebanji as the winner of the June 18 governorship election.

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