Kogi: My lawyer’s name is ‘my lawyer’, witness tells Tribunal, says ‘I spoke to him in vernacular’

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… I forgot to say I was SDP agent in my deposition – Witness

…Sitting adjourned to April 4 for continuation of hearing

Hearing continued at the Kogi State Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Abuja on Wednesday with four witnesses testifying for the petitioners, the Social Democratic Party.

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The witnesses’ accounts, like in previous sittings, followed virtually the same patterns even when they voted in different polling units.

Visible contradictions were also discovered during cross-examination, which, in most cases, could not be explained by the witnesses concerned.

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While one of the four witnesses, Danlamin Abaji Yakubu, from Ajaokuta Local Government Area of Kogi State, claimed that he was an agent of the SDP during the election, others said they were not agents.

Yakubu, who said he was a member of the SDP, a voter and the Party’s agent during the election, however, noted, under cross-examination, that he had lost everything that could prove that he was an agent.

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When asked if he stated in his deposition that he was an agent in the election, he told the Tribunal that he forgot to say so.

He also admitted that he did not write his deposition but explained to his lawyer, who he said wrote it for him.

When his attention was also brought to the fact that in Paragraph 4 of his deposition, he did not indicate the total number of accredited voters, he said it was a mistake by the typist.

The Respondents’ counsel asked him to state the number he meant to write if it was a mistake. But he said, “I don’t know the number.”

In his deposition, he indicated that the number of registered voters in his polling unit was 771, but when he was asked to confirm the number, he said, “I did not indicate that I voted in my deposition.”

This was amusing because his answer did not tally with the question he was asked.

Another witness, Abdulkareem Muhammed Ogeja, also from Ajaokuta, created room for a mild drama under cross-examination.

He said though he was a member of the SDP, he did not state in his deposition that he was a member of the party.

But he confirmed that he was not the party’s agent during the election and that the SDP had an agent at his polling unit.

The Respondent’s counsel asked, “Are you surprised that the SDP agent did not complain and you were the only one that complained? He said, “I’m not surprised.”

The interesting part of his appearance was when he was asked if he wrote the deposition by himself and he said his lawyer did after he explained what happened to him.

When he was told to mention the name of his lawyer, the witness said, “His name is my lawyer.”

The Respondents’ lawyer then asked him, “Which language did you use to communicate with your lawyer?” Ogeja said he communicated with his lawyer “in vernacular”.

Investigations, however, revealed that there was no illiterate jurat in his deposition as required.

He also noted that he did not know the number of registered voters in his polling unit and that he did not also receive any paper indicating the number on the day of election, whereas he was said to have quoted the figures in his deposition.

On his part, Emmanuel Ohiare, from Okehi Local Government Area, said he was not a member of the SDP neither was he an agent but noted that the party had an agent at his polling unit.

It was therefore an issue of concern that the SDP agent did not complain of irregularities but a random voter.

He also admitted, under cross-examination, that the election went on smoothly and proper procedures were followed, noting that voters were validly accredited. But he maintained that there was over-voting even though it was observed that he could not substantiate this during cross-examination.

He told the Tribunal that his lawyer prepared the deposition for him but did not know the name of his lawyer.

The judge observed that the witness, Ohiare, was being evasive during cross-examination.

Abdullahi Musa, from Ajaokuta Local Government Area, said he was not at his polling unit as the agent and did not know whether the SDP had an agent.

He told the Tribunal that proper procedures were not followed, but during cross-examination, he was confronted with Paragraph 5 of his deposition, where he had said that the procedures were properly followed.

He indicated there that there was voters’ accreditation and that he was fully accredited.

Another interesting twist to his claims was that he had made reference to a particular Form EC40H(1)PWD in his deposition. But when asked, during cross-examination if he knew the said form, he said no.

When the witness’ attention was drawn to Paragraph 5(F) of his deposition, which contained the Form EC40(1)PWD, and the fact that his response meant that the statement in that paragraph was not correct, he said, “I know.”

Sitting was subsequently adjourned to April 4, 2024 for continuation of hearing.

Four witnesses had testified on Tuesday, April 2, 2024, and they all confirmed that they were voters and not party agents.

READ ALSO: We won’t allow embittered politicians turn our state into ethnic enclave of crisis — Kogi youths declare

 

 

One of the witnesses, Abdulsalam Adamson, from Okehi Local Government, had said no one threatened him not to testify in court, contrary to claims that the SDP witnesses were being threatened.

Others that testified on Tuesday were Salawudeen Abdulraheem, Adavi Local Government;
Abdulazeez Abdulkareem, Okehi Local Government; and Raji Usman, also from Okehi.

The lead counsel for the petitioners at the hearing on Wednesday was Pius Akubo, SAN.

Kanu Agabi SAN represented the Independent National Electoral Commission,
A.M. Aliu SAN, appeared for Governor Usman Ododo, while
E.C. Ukala SAN, represented the All Progressives Congress.

On Tuesday, Alex Iziyon SAN appeared for Governor Ododo.

The SDP is challenging the victory of Gov. Ododo of the APC in the November 2023 Governorship election in the state.

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