By Adebayo Adedeji
Today, the Osun State Governornship Petition Tribunal hearing the petition of Governor Oyetola and his party will give its rule on the subpoena it issued to the Resident Electoral Commissioner to produce documents submitted by Senator Ademola Adeleke to the commission and to testify and offer sworn testimonies about what he knows, heard or saw regarding the documents.
Recall the Commission through its counsels, and those of Adeleke and the People Democratic Party, had laboured to justify why the REC should not appear before the Tribunal to produce the said documents which the petitioners claimed were forged.
However, if judicial precedents are anything to go by, there is a high probability that the ruling will favour Oyetola and his party.
In a similar case decided by the Court of Appeal in 2010 in Debo Kamar vs Adejare Bello, Stanley Shanko Alagoa in his lead ruling said the following:
” The refusal of the 4th Respondent (REC of INEC) or its Representative to give evidence on oath and be examined on the produced documents and alleged irregular conduct of the election, by so doing the Tribunal disallowed and excluded evidence which the Appelant feels is vital to sustain his case.
If the Tribunal had allowed the REC or his Representative to testify on oath having been on subpoena, the produced documents and materials used to conduct the election complained about would have been scrutinized by the Tribunal in eventually arriving at a decision. . . . This is certainly shutting out the Appellant from fully required evidence to maintain his petition. See Obiodu v Duke (2006), Buhari v Obasanjo (2005), Abubakar v Yaradua ( 2008), Aregbesola v Oyinlola (2009), Lasun v Awoyemi (2009), recently, Omidiran vs Etteh (2010), and my recent decision in Famurewa v Onigbogi & 334 ORS in CA/I/EPT/NA/91/08 delivered on 16/4/10.
The Appellant was right that the Tribunal not allowing a witness on Subpoena to testify for him in the witness box occasioned a breach of fair hearing to the Appellant’s Petition raised in the Appellant’s issue six.
In the final analysis, the appeal succeeds. I allow same, and grant the alternative prayers sought as follows: The Judgement of the Tribunal sitting at Osogbo in Petition No. HA/EPT/OS/11/07 delivered on 30th May, 2008, is hereby set aside, including the earlier Rulings delivered on 18/1/08, 01/02/08, and 22/2/08 for lack of fair hearing.”
The above was the ruling of the Court of Appeal and I expect the Tribunal to toe this similar and known path today.
If this is done, it is expected that the REC would be further compelled to appear before it or a warrant of arrest is issued to commit him to prison pending the time he is ready to comply with the order.