Delta Tribunal: Emerhor, Okowa Battle Over Subpoena On INEC
The state governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the April 11 election, O’tega Emerhor, is challenging the declaration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of the Peoples Democratic Party as the winner of the April poll.
Counsel for the APC, Thompson Okpoko (SAN), at the resumed hearing in the petition on Thursday, branded counsel for the three respondents as “meddlesome interlopers and rabble rousers”, whose applications were meant to cause confusion and stall the hearing of the petition.
Joined in the suit are Okowa as the first respondent, the PDP as the second respondent while the Independent National Electoral Commission, consisting of the REC and Collation Officer, Prof Bio, as the third, fourth, and fifth respondents respectively.
Okpoko had, at the last sitting, raised the alarm that he had been served with three motions by the respondents when he was supposed to call his witnesses in the in the petition, which is before a three-man panel headed by Justice Nasir Gunmi.
Okowa’s counsel, Dr Alex Izinyon (SAN), in moving the application, urged the tribunal to set aside APC subpoena (Duce Tekum) earlier granted by the tribunal on INEC to appear at the tribunal.
Also, PDP’s counsel, Timothy Kehinde (SAN), aligned with Okowa’s counsel, arguing that the subpoena was an indirect way of asking the tribunal to sit on appeal over an earlier ruling refusing the petitioner’s application for further and better particulars.
Kehinde averred that the subpoena was “a surreptitious means to revisit the application to call additional witnesses”.
He said the documents of the petition were documents not pleaded or listed in the petition, urging the tribunal to dismiss request.
The SAN said the subpoena “is misleading and meant to overreach the PDP, who will have no opportunity for a rebuttal”.
Counsel for INEC, Damien Dodo (SAN), described the subpoena as a “tactical manoeuvre by the petitioner to bring documents that were not pleaded nor were listed”.
He argued that a petitioner “must either rise or fall with the structure of our petition”.
Okpoko argued that the three applications were an attempt to defeat the petition by delaying the hearing of the petition.
The SAN added, “These applications have one purpose: It is to stall the hearing of the petition and an attempt to defeat it by delaying the hearing of the petition. The application is borne out of rabble rousing. It is to cause confusion. They are meddlesome interlopers and trying to cry louder than the bereaved.”
He noted that the subpoena was not served on either the first or the second respondents.
Okpoko admitted that INEC could apply to set aside the subpoena, but averred that in this petition, the provision of law was not applicable.
The tribunal Chairman, Justice Nasiru Gunmi adjourned to Friday for ruling on the matter.