Abia Gov’ship Election Tribunal: Gov Otti, LP To Open Defense As PDP Closes Case After Bringing A ‘Stranger As Witness’

By NewsCritic Reporters

The legal battle between the ruling Labour Party, LP, and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, over the outcome of the 18 March, 2023 governorship election in Abia State continued today at the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, with the PDP and Chief Okey Ahiwe closing their case after calling an expert witness whom the respondents’ counsel described as a ‘stranger’ and objected to the documents he tendered as exhibit before the court.

During cross examination by Barr A. J Owonikoko lead counsel to Gov Alex Otti,  the PDP expert Witness on subpoena, identified as Odutan a statistician, claimed that his work and report on the governorship election was based on documents he could access which exclude BVAs machine and voter register because they were denied access to them by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

When asked the number of accredited voters in Obingwa as contained in his report, the Witness who was described as ‘a stranger’ by A.J Owonikoko replied that there was no accreditation of voters in Obingwa. He also said that his report covers 105 polling units where over voting occurred.

Ume Kalu, SAN, counsel for the LP during his cross examination of the Witness noted that the Witness made reference to an Order to inspect BVAs machines, and asked when the Order was obtained, to which the Witness answered ‘in April 3rd 2023’. Asked again when he visited INEC, the Witness answered ‘on the 7th April and 15th August to carry out inspection of the BVAs but was denied access.

Then he was further asked if he (Witness) reported to the court that they were denied access to the BVAs Machines to which he answered ‘not to my knowledge’, but quickly added that the counsel to PDP should be able to answer that question.

At this point Ume Kalu said “I put it to you that at no time did you visit INEC” and that at no time was he denied access to the BVAs machine”. Then he was asked if the Witness has evidence of his invitation to INEC to which he answered no’ saying that he is not the counsel.

Immediately Ume Kalu was done with his cross examination, Elder Chibuike Nwokeukwu, the Petitioners counsel rose to tender acknowledgement copy of the letter of the Petitioners counsel to INEC for permission to inspect the BVAs machine used in the March 18 governorship election in Abia State, in obedience to the order of this tribunal”, he said.

Owonikoko objected to the document being admitted in evidence and said he would give his reason later. Ume Kalu also objected to the document and complained that they were not even copied the acknowledgement letter. However, the Tribunal admitted it in evidence and marked as exhibit p1-91 before adjournment.

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