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Aderinokun, Ogun PDP suffer another legal loss as tribunal sets aside subpoenas to call additional witnesses

The Ogun Central Senatorial District Election Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Abeokuta, the state capital, has granted an application filed before it by the All Progressives Congress, the 3rd Respondent in the petition, asking the tribunal to set aside subpoenas issued at the instance of the Petitioners, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its senatorial candidate in the February 25, 2023 election, Hon. Olumide Aderinokun.

Aderinokun had asked the tribunal to allow them to add more subpoenaed witnesses as part of their witnesses to testify against the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the winner of the Ogun Central Senatorial District Election, Senator SHUAIB AFOLABI SALISU.

In a unanimous ruling by the three-man tribunal, the judges were of the opinion that the petitioners are trying to call fresh witnesses to testify on their behalf and that if those witnesses were allowed, it would be tantamount to amending the petition through the back-door. The tribunal held that the petitioners cannot do this at this stage, having regard to the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act and the Schedule thereto.

It will be recalled that the PDP Ogun Central Senatorial candidate, Olumide Aderinokun, had approached the tribunal to ask it to nullify the victory of Senator SHUAIB AFOLABI SALISU, stating that the election did not comply substantially with the Electoral Act as amended.

The petition came up for ruling on the All Progressives Congress counsel’s motion on notice dated 13th June 2023, seeking to set aside the subpoena issued on the 6th June 2023 by the honorable Tribunal on the application of the Petitioners/Respondents.

The grounds of the petition included that the Petitioners failed to list subpoenaed witnesses as part of their witnesses in their petition, failed to front-load the witness depositions of the subpoenaed witnesses, that the attempt to call subpoenaed witnesses whose depositions were not front-loaded would defeat the essence of the front-loading system and spring surprise on the Respondents, and that the attempt to call those witnesses would amount to amending the petition.

The application was strongly opposed by the Petitioners, who filed a counter-affidavit and written address.
However, the Tribunal, in its ruling delivered today, agreed entirely with the All Progressives Congress’s counsel and held that allowing those subpoenaed witnesses is tantamount to amending the petition, which the Petitioners cannot do at this stage, having regard to the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act and the Schedule thereto.

The subpoena earlier issued on the application of the Petitioners was also set aside. There was no order made as to costs.
The Petitioners’ counsel later applied for an adjournment to enable them to tender some documents from the bar.

All counsel to the Respondents did not oppose the application.
The Tribunal adjourned the petition to Friday, 14th July 2023, for the conclusion of the Petitioners’ case and the commencement of defense by the 1st and 2nd Respondents, especially.

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