Oyo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal on Monday disallowed a subpoenaed witness called by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to testify in a petition challenging the victory of Gov. Seyi Makinde of Oyo State.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the witness was Prof. Toyin Ogundipe who was the Oyo State Returning Officer in the March 9 governorship election in the state.
The tribunal led by Justice Muhammed Sirajo said that INEC’s statement of oath and list of witnesses submitted to the tribunal did not include Ogundipe’ name.
Sirajo said that INEC also failed to indicate whether an official or subpoenaed witness would be called to testify in the matter.
“This witness cannot testify for INEC in this matter,” the tribunal ruled.
Earlier, counsel to INEC, Mr Akinlolu Kehinde (SAN), had told the tribunal that the subpoenaed witness was an official witness who was not under the control of the commission.
He, however, said that Electoral Act paragraphs 41 to 48 allow the tribunal to use its discretion on the issue and allow the witness to testify.
Kehinde argued that the witness had been the INEC returning officer who was critically involved in the election and urged the tribunal to allow him to testify.
But counsel to Adebayo Adelabu, the APC flagbearer, Mr Afolabi Fashanu (SAN), said there should be a granted application before the tribunal can allow a subpoenaed witness to appear before it.
Fashanu said that the discretion to be exercised by the tribunal must be based on existing law and must be exercised judiciously.
He urged the tribunal to disallow the witness.
NAN reports that the tribunal had taken a break to resume later in the day as at the time of this report.
NAN also reports that Adelabu and his party are challenging the declaration of Makinde, the PDP candidate, as the governor of Oyo State by INEC during the March 9 governorship election.
The other respondents in the matter are INEC and PDP.