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Kogi tribunal: Again, SDP witnesses give conflicting evidences

Kogi tribunal: Again, SDP witnesses give conflicting evidences

SDP

Published By: Ayorinde Oluokun

By Taiye Agbaje

The drama at the Kogi State Election Petition Tribunal over the hearing of the petition of Social Democratic Party (SDP) continued on Wednesday as four witnesses called by the party gave contradictory testimonies.

The witnesses called by SDP in the past two sittings of the Tribunal had also surprisingly denied their depositions and recanted on some of their statements.

This pattern continued on Wednesday as the four witnesses called by SDP appeared before the three-member panel of justices led by Justice Ado Birnin-Kudu.

The SDP and its governorship candidate, Murtala Ajaka, are challenging the victory of Gov. Usman Ododo of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Nov. 11, 2023 election.

During the sitting on Wednesday, there were different accounts by the witnesses, especially during cross-examination, which, in most cases, could not be explained by the witnesses themselves.

A witness, Danlamin Yakubu, from Ajaokuta Local Government Area of Kogi, said that he was an agent of the SDP during the election.

Yakubu, who said he was a member of the SDP, a voter and the party’s agent during the poll, however, told the tribunal under cross-examination that he had lost everything that could prove that he was an agent.

When asked if he stated in his deposition before the tribunal that he was an agent in the election, he said that he forgot to do so.

He also alleged that his lawyer wrote his deposition for him.

When his attention was brought to paragraph 4 of his deposition that he did not indicate the total number of accredited voters, the witness said it was a typographical error.

But when the respondents’ counsel asked him to state the number he meant to write if it was a mistake, he said: “I don’t know the number.”

Although in his deposition, he indicated that the number of registered voters in his polling unit was 771, when he was asked to confirm the number, he gave a conflicting response.

“I did not indicate that I voted in my deposition,” he said.

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Another witness, Abdulkareem Ogeja, from the same Local Government Area(LGA), said that he was a member of the SDP, but did not state his membership of the party in his disposition.

He, however, said that he was not the party’s agent during the election and that the SDP had an agent at his polling unit.

When the respondent’s counsel asked if he was surprised that the SDP agent did not complain and he was the only one complaining, Ogeja said, “I’m not surprised.”

When he was asked further if he wrote the deposition by himself, he said his lawyer did it after he explained what happened to him.

When he was told to mention the name of his lawyer, the witness said: “His name is my lawyer.”

When he was asked which language he used to communicate with his lawyer, Ogeja said “in vernacular “.

The witness, who told the panel that he did not know the number of registered voters in his polling unit, also said he did not receive any paper indicating the total number on the day of election.

Contrary to Ogeja’s evidence, he was said to have quoted the figures in his deposition.

Emmanuel Ohiare, from Okehi LGA, and Abdullahi Musa from Ajaokuta LGA, equally testified at the sitting.

The tribunal adjourned the sitting until April 4 for continuation of hearing.

While the lead counsel for SDP and Ajaka was Pius Akubo, SAN, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, represented the Independent National Electoral Commission with Mr A.M. Aliu, SAN, appearing for Gov. Ododo while E.C. Ukala, SAN, represented the APC at the hearing.

(NAN)

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