Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji and his Deputy , Mrs. Monisade Afuye, have closed their case before the Election Petition Tribunal hearing the.dispute arising from the June 18, 2022 governorship election.
They announced their intent to close their case at the resumed hearing of the petition on Wednesday through their lead counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN).
Oyebanji and Afuye are the 1st and 5th Respondents respectively in the petition filed by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) governorship candidate, Chief Olusegun Oni.
Other Respondents in the petition are the All Progressives Congress (APC) (2nd), Alhaji Mai Mala Buni (3rd) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) (4th).
Oni and his party (SDP) are the 1st and 2nd Petitioners respectively.
At the Tribunal’s sitting on Tuesday, the 1st and 5th petitioners had brought a witness, Mr. Garba Arogundade, the APC Secretary in Ekiti State, who testified that the governorship election was free, fair, credible and conducted in line with best practices.
But Fagbemi during the Wednesday’s sitting surprisingly told the three-member Panel that the 1st and 5th Respondents would be closing their case at the Tribunal.
Fagbemi said the decision was arrived at after exhaustive deliberation even though his clients still had more witnesses to bring to the Tribunal to give evidence.
Lead counsel to the 2nd Respondent, Chief Akinlolu Olujinmi (SAN), said he did not expect that the 1st and 5th Respondents would close their case so soon.
He asked the Tribunal to give him two days to get the witnesses of the 2nd Respondents ready for their days in the witness box.
Lead counsel to the 3rd Respondent, Mr. Shaibu Aruwa (SAN) also said he was surprised by the development but there was no way he could get his witness ready to fill in the time.
When asked by the Tribunal Chairman, Justice Wilfred Kpochi, whether he could try to bring his witnesses on Thursday, Aruwa said he would explore the possibility.
Lead counsel to the 4th Respondent, Chief Charles Uwensuyi-Edosomwan (SAN), when asked by the Tribunal Chairman whether he could bring some witnesses tomorrow said “tomorrow belongs to God.”
While noting that although he remained neutral, Uwensuyi-Edosomwan said each counsel was expected to bring his witnesses “turn-by-turn.”
Lead counsel to the Petitioners, Mr. Obafemi Adewale (SAN) said he was surprised that Fagbemi could not bring other witnesses to court as earlier promised at Tuesday’s sitting adding that he was further surprised that other counsel could not bring their witnesses after their “‘exhaustive deliberation” as stated by Fagbemi.
Adewale stated further that Respondents are duty bound to bring their witnesses before the Tribunal in line with what they had earlier agreed.
The Tribunal Chairman, Justice Kpochi, however, stood down ruling on the next line of action till Thursday, 20th October, 2022.
The Petitioners (Oni and SDP) had earlier called four witnesses after which they closed their case before the Tribunal.