The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, has admitted four exhibits from the subpoenaed Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC’s) witnesses in a petition by Mr Daniel Onjeh of the All Progressives Congress (APC) challenging the return of Senator David Mark by the INEC.
The former Senate president was declared winner of the Benue South election held on March 28, having defeated Mr Daniel Onjeh.
Mr Yakubu Nachamada one of the witnesses from INEC, could identify five documents, which Onjeh sought to tender, but the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) counsel Chris Alechenu, objected to the permissibility of one of them
The document in question is a letter dated July 27, authorising the INEC worker to be a witness in the suit which did not originate from the party.
Alechenu said the letter could only be tendered in evidence either through the INEC chairman, the resident electoral commissioner or the writer of the letter which the witness was not.
“The witness is not the writer, addressee and is not even copied in the letter. So, the letter cannot be tendered through him.”
Mr. Kenneth Ikoni, counsel to Mark, also concurred with the views of the PDP counsel and admonished the court not to accept the letter as an exhibit.
Onjeh’s counsel, Tunji Oso, while urging the court to discountenance the objections raised by the respondents’ counsel, said the document can be linked to the witness as there are relevant and sufficient evidence suggesting this.
He cited the Nigerian Weekly Law Report, page 17 (G-H) saying that “a document linking a witness to an evidence can be tendered with or without the consent of the writer or addressee.”
The Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Mosunmola Dipeolu, however, ruled that the document was vital to the appearance of the witness in court and admitted the document in evidence as Exhibit PA.
The Card Reader Accreditation Data was also admitted in evidence. The Card Reader Accreditation Data that concerned elections in the senatorial district reflecting the polling units were generated from the INEC website and was presented in court by Mr Yakubu Nachamada.
The receipt for the certification of documents was also admitted in evidence
Oso saw his application to tender the subpoena by the tribunal for the two witnesses from INEC to testify in court turned down.
Counsel to the PDP had pleaded with the court to reject the admissibility of the order on the grounds that it was already the document of the court, stressing that the court does not need it as an evidence.
The tribunal’s chairman, Justice Dipeolu concurred with the respondents’ counsel and rejected the ruled in favour of the PDP’s counsel and adjourned the case for the continuation of trial.