Ogun Tribunal: PDP Witnesses Continue to Appear in Court

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Proceedings at the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abeokuta, Ogun State, continue as Ladi Adebutu, the Governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State, presents 40 witnesses to the court. According to the counsel of the PDP candidate, Goddy Uche, they still have more witnesses to present to the Tribunal, and they have decided to continue bringing in witnesses every day until when due.

The witnesses

Adeniyi Ishau Ijaola, Adenike Rukayat, Adedoyin Kehinde Omolara, Iyalokhue Wesley, Samson Makanjuola Adetayo, Popoola Akeem Adekunle, Oladehinde John Oluwaseun, Oladeinde John Oluwaseun, Ajose Olufunke Janet, Sulaiman Shakiru Ato, and Oluwaseyi Ogungbesan Ogungbesan.

The witnesses were ushered into the witness box one after the other, as Goddy Uche requested that the court continue with the calling in of witnesses for the petitioner. Goddy Uche started by questioning them accordingly before other counsels took over.

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Mr. Adeniyi Ishau Ijaola, who claims to also be known as Chief Olumale, a traditionalist in Sagamu, stood in the witness box tendering the original and photocopy of his voter’s card as evidence that he is a voter and also the Party Chairman of PDP Ward 7, Sagamu.

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Dr. Remi Peter, Counsel of the INEC, asked the witness why his statement of witness oath is not different from that of other witnesses from Polling units 33, 34, 35, and all others, except for the first and fourth paragraphs that contain the ward numbers they come from and the numbers of voters recorded respectively.

Mr. Adeniyi disagreed with the claim and said, “I got to my polling unit at 9 am while several other voters had been at the election ground by then. I successfully cast my vote, and the voting process was still ongoing when some unknown men invaded the ground at 1 pm. Everyone fled, and on returning to the voting ground, the voting ballot papers had all been burnt and scattered.”

The second witness was called to the witness box, and she introduced herself as Adenike Rukayat, a trader from Sagamu Ward 6, Polling Unit 11. After confirmations were done on her identity and voter’s card, Dr. Remi asked why she carries the same statement of witness oaths as all other witnesses, but she claimed not to be familiar with any other witness as she was alone on the date she came to give her statement to the PDP counsel.

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She further said, “I saw everything that happened after the men on bikes attacked our polling unit. I watched from afar as they burnt the election ballot papers, scattered all the equipment being used, and the election could no longer continue. Also, I did not report to any police station because policemen were on the ground at that very moment.”

The proceedings continued as another witness was called into the witness box. Adedoyin Kehinde Omolara, a trader from Makun Road, Sagamu. After all identifications were done, Omolara said, “I am not here to witness against Dapo Abiodun. Instead, I am here to testify to everything I saw at the polling unit. I am not a PDP member, nor do I have any politician as a friend.” I got to my polling unit at 8:31 am while the INEC staff were not on the ground until about 9 am.

The election started afterward but was later canceled as a result of the disruption by unknown men.” In addition, Omolara was asked which politician then directed her to a lawyer, and she said, “No politician directed me to any lawyer. I only went to a friend after I heard the case was going to be brought to the court, and I felt the need to come as a witness because I saw all that happened that very day, and I was then directed to the PDP lawyer here in Abeokuta who took down my statements.”

The next witness, Iyalokhue Wesley, a banker from Mowe, was called into the witness box. After all identifications were done, he was asked about the same similarities in the witness statement oaths. Wesley answered, “I do not know if PDP has other witnesses. I am only testifying in regard to my statement about overvoting that occurred at my polling unit.

The election got disrupted by armed unknown men along the line because the police force with us were unarmed, after which myself and members of my polling unit reported the incident to the police, and the police report is here at the Abeokuta police station.”

Goddy Uche claimed in the courtroom to have seen false news about the witnesses brought in the previous day, stating that they gave contradicting answers to the questions asked, which were not true.

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Continuing with the proceedings, the next witness was called to the witness box. Samson Makanjuola Adetayo, a trader from Atiba, Odogbolu local government. After all identifications were done, Mr. Adetayo was asked if he has a record of all the voters from his polling unit. He answered, “1100 people registered for the PVC, and only 554 got their cards.

I do not know why almost half did not get theirs, nor do I know the number of people who came to vote on that day. All I know is that we had many people on the ground who came to vote. Voting stopped when some unknown men came armed on motorcycles and disrupted the ongoing voting. I was attacked and injured by the armed men, and I had to be rushed to El-shaddai hospital. It was afterwards that I reported the incident to Obalende police station.”

Another witness, Popoola Akeem Adekunle, an Estate Manager from Sagamu, claimed that the reason his witness statement oaths could have been the same as those of other witnesses is that every other polling unit experienced the same attack. He continued, “I will not be happy if the petition is decided against PDP because I have been a member for 10 years. I arrived at the polling unit around 8 am.

It was announced by the INEC staff that 336 people registered for PVC, but only 220 got their cards, and reasons for this were not explained. As the voting process was ongoing, over 15 motorcycles with 3 men on each, wearing yellow hand bands, rode into the voting ground and disrupted the voting process. I did not report this to any police station. Hence, I am here to testify for myself and my party, PDP, because INEC did not record any vote in my polling unit.”

The magistrate asked that the court goes on a break at 1:45pm. After the break, the court resumed sitting at 3:04pm.

The next  witness, Mr Oladeinde John Oluwaseun, a trader from Amolasho, Abeokuta, is the first witness for the day. He confirmed that he was at the court on April 6th to sign his witness statement for the case. However, he stated that the statement does not contain all that he witnessed on the election day because he knew he would be coming to the court to testify.

When asked how many times he has been in court as a witness, he mentioned three occasions but clarified that they were not related to the PDP. For this particular case, his lawyer asked him to provide a brief statement and to provide more details when he comes to court. Mr Oladeinde also mentioned that despite arriving at his polling unit on time, he was unable to vote or be accredited by the INEC officials due to disruption by hoodlums. He did not report the incident to the police as he is not an agent, and the police were present afterwards.

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The eighth witness, Ajose Olufunke Janet, a PDP agent and trader from GRA road, Sagamu, was also identified. Dr. Femi asked for the witness statement of Makanjuola Samson and had Olufunke compare certain paragraphs with her own statement. While the statements were found to be identical, Olufunke claimed that they were from different polling units as she did not know any of the witnesses.

She explained that a friend advised her to provide a summary in her statement since she would still be testifying in court. Olufunke described the events at her polling unit, mentioning that not all voters were accredited due to the setting of the polling unit on fire, which prevented INEC from completing the accreditations using BVAS. She also mentioned that INEC did not declare any votes for any party in the end.

The next witness, Sulaiman Shakiru Ato, an automobile engineer from Sagamu, was brought to the witness box. After identifications were done, he was given his witness statement of oaths to compare with another witness’s statement. However, Sulaiman stated that he is not proficient in reading English and therefore cannot differentiate the statements. He did mention that the election ground was scattered and disrupted, causing INEC officials to flee for their lives.

The last witness for the day, Oluwaseyi Ogungbesan Ogungbesan, a trader and transporter from Ososa, Odogbolu local government, was also confirmed. He was given his witness statement oaths to read certain paragraphs but had difficulties reading them. No further questions were asked by the counsels.

Goddy Uche pleaded to the court for the proceedings to continue the following day. The proceedings ended at 5:13pm and adjourned until the next day, 14th July, 2023.

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