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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Edo polls tribunal: Witnesses give contradictory statements



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Witnesses of Maj.-Gen Charles Airhiavbere (rtd), the appellant in the Edo Election Petitions tribunal gave contradictory statements at the resumed hearing of the tribunal in Benin City, yesterday.

Maj.-Gen Airhiavbere is challenging the election of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as governor of Edo State in the July 14, 2012 election on two grounds: the academic qualification of the Governor and alleged malpractice in the election

The appellant called in five witnesses yesterday to buttress his claim of alleged electoral fraud.

The first witness, Omololu Ogbeni née Ojehomon who said she was  a PDP agent in the said election could not however show any proof to back up her claim. She told the tribunal that she joined the PDP two years ago, her PDP membership card however showed she joined in September 2011. There was also no indication she is a financial member of the party.

She admitted that she cast her vote and saw other people voting.

Ogbeni who said she is an intelligence expert said she is not recognized as such by any security agency in the country even as her PDP card indicated that she is a business woman.

Another witness, Phillip Osawaru said he was 38 years old, same age that was indicated on his voter’s card which was issued two years ago.

He said he went to the poll with two of his daughters aged 20 and 18. When told that he contravened the electoral act because his daughters were underage when they registered to vote three years ago, he said he was unaware that he committed an offence.

He said his accreditation as PDP agent for the election was given to him at the polling centre on election day, but under further probe, he said it was taken to his party’s secretariat at Abudu, where he went to pick it on election day. When asked if he knew he again contravened the electoral act which restricts movement on election day, Osawaru said he was unaware of such restriction.

On her part, another witness, Deaconess Maria Osaghae  who said she’s the Woman Leader of Ward 1 for the PDP said she has been an active participant in elections for over 15 years and is quite conversant with the nations electoral process.

She admitted to voting on Election Day for the candidate of her choice. She admitted that she was not the PDP agent at her unit and that she was not induced to vote. She also said that nobody shared money with her at her unit and that her testimony is based on what she was told.

Another witness, Madam Jennifer Ologbosere who claimed to know the members of all the parties in her ward could however not say who the Social Secretary for NCP in her ward was and also did not know not know the Youth Leader of the Labour Party in her ward.

She also admitted that she did not know the number of PDP-registered voters in her ward.

She said she saw some ACN agents sharing La Casera drink and Gala to woo voters, When asked if she saw them sharing rice, she said no which prompted the ACN  Counsel, to read a portion of her deposition in which she stated that she saw some agents sharing rice at the polling centre.

Two would-be witnesses, one for the appellant and another for the respondent were however sent out of the tribunal for being in the tribunal room even after they had been warned to stay out of the court room and out of hearing.

The appellant, Maj.-Gen Charles Airhiavbere was at the tribunal yesterday, while Dr Pius Odubu, the state Deputy Governor was also at the tribunal. The 1st respondent, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole was however absent at yesterday’s sitting.

Sitting of the 3-man tribunal headed by Justice by Justice Muazu Pindiga continues today, Thursday.

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