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Edo Election Tribunal: Lawyers play dirty as “Juju-man” testifies for PDP, Pastor Ize-Iyamu

Once more, lawyers representing the petitioners against the September 2016 Election in Edo state have resorted to foul play and drawn ire for their efforts from the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice A. T. Badamasi.

Justice Badamasi told off the lawyers, representing the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu at the Edo High Court in Benin City on Friday for what he described as “wrong behaviour”.

This was at the resumed hearing of the tribunal set up to listen to the petition against the All Progressives Congress (APC), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and Governor Godwin Obaseki where Counsels to the PDP and Pastor Ize-Iyamu were heard whispering answers to witnesses, who were under cross-examination, for questions directed at them by the respondents’ counsels.

Justice Badamasi emphatically stated that although it would not be the first time he would warn the whispering lawyers against such conduct, it would serve as the last time he would do so.

The petitioners’ Counsels and PDP Chieftains, who were camped near the witness dock, had stubbornly defied warnings and continued on their unholy path by suggesting and providing answers to their witnesses under cross-examination in other to avoid pitfalls that could hamper the success of their petition.

Observing this trend, Justice Badamasi had earlier cautioned against such unprofessional and unethical conduct on Tuesday and Wednesday, but its reoccurrence on Thursday and Friday visited a tongue-lashing on the blameworthy parties.

Telling off the guilty counsels, Justice Badamasi said it was “very wrong, very wrong for somebody from the bar and outside the bar to assist witnesses with answers to questions during cross examination”.

Meanwhile, the lead counsel to the petitioners, Roland Otaru (SAN) apologized to the court saying, “It will not repeat itself again”.

Meanwhile, An unusual scenario played out at the resumed Edo election tribunal on Friday when one of the petitioners’ witnesses, Osaretin Alexander Uzamah adopted and denied a document in the space of five minutes.

Uzamah had earlier provided some amusement for the court when he chose to take his oath not by the Bible or the Qur’an, but by a rod of iron.

Upon mounting the witness dock at the Edo High Court in Benin City, Uzamah indicated his interest in swearing his affirmation by the iron rod reserved for traditionalists.

His decision was greeted with laughter and surprise as people immediately drew up theories to explain such a choice.

While an excited observer opined, “He must be an herbalist”, another spectator declaimed in pidgin, “This one na juju man”, even as another suggested that “He must be an Ogun worshipper or traditional believer”.

Meanwhile, an unperturbed Uzamah of Egor quarters, who voted in Unit 3, Ward 4, went on to testify for the Peoples’ Democratic Party and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu freely.

Shortly after his testimony began, while he was still under oath, Uzamah adopted a document, exhibit PO 4 (14), form EC8 (b) – his ward collation result – as evidence.

Also agreeing that all the documents and the witness statement presented to him were in order and he had no desire to change anything before he was cross-examined, he deposited both.

However, in less than 5 minutes however, he had shot himself and the petitioners in the foot by not only denying the same document, but also denying knowledge of its existence.

Denying the evidence shorter than any cock could crow, he distanced himself from it like plague. This was as the respondents’ – All Progressives Congress (APC), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Governor Godwin Obaseki – counsels cross-examined him.

Osaretin had been asked to confirm he signed the ward collation result – exhibit PO 4(14), form EC8 (b), but as soon as he was shown the document he said, “I have never seen this document before”.

He said, “On Election Day, it was what I witnessed I used in my deposition statement. I never relied on what my polling agents told me. I went round all the polling units in my ward. I was not in unit 9 all through but I visited the unit. I was also not stationed in unit 2, 4, 5, 6 and 8.”

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Damilola is a full time journalist/writer/freelancer and blogger.

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