The efforts mounted by the Governorship candidate of the Action Congress (AC) in Osun State to dethrown the incumbent governor received a boost yesterday as the Justice Alli Garba-led Governorship Election Petition Retrial Tribunal sitting in Osogbo granted his application to include the forensic expert, Mr. Paul Jobbins as an additional witness.
The Tribunal Chairman gave his ruling following the submission of Aregbesolaâ€™s lead counsel, Chief Ebun Sofunde (SAN) assisted by Mr. Deji Sasegbon (SAN).
Soon after Sofunde began moving his application, Mallam Yussuf Alli (SAN) leading counsel to Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola who was assisted by seven other Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) rose to tell the court that his clients were not opposing the application in the spirit of co-operating with the Tribunal.
Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr. R. O. Yussuf leading Messrs F.E. Abbe and Dayo Famakin-Johnson alongside the Attorney-General of Osun State who is holding the brief for the Nigeria Police equally did not oppose the application.
Following the ruling, Alli rose to move an application he filed last Friday seeking to carry out physical inspection of all materials used for the conduct of the last gubernatorial poll in Osun State.
As he was moving the application, Sofunde rose to observe that his clients were just serve the application last Friday July 3 and urged the court to allow him time to study it.
He submitted further that if his clients would be opposing the application, they would know in the processes that would have been filed in court on Friday July 10 when the Tribunal was scheduled to sit again.
In his reply, Alli told the Tribunal that â€œMy understanding is that pre-trial will end on Friday. Be that as it may, we are asking for another date except Friday (July 10, 2009)â€.
Justice Garba then asked him to choose a date to which the he replied that â€œSubject to the convenience of your Lordships, Thursday July 16 is convenient for all counselâ€.
A mild drama soon ensued as counsel to INEC and the Nigeria Police, Messrs R. O. Yussuf andÂ Niyi Owolade told the Tribunal that they had not been served with the application.
However when officials of the Tribunal presented proof of service to them separately, they confirmed being served.
On his part, the Osun State Attorney-General Owolade profusely apologized to the Tribunal saying that he had just been informed that one of the Clerical Officers in the State Ministry of Justice named Babarinsa received the application on Friday.
At this stage, the Tribunal asked Owolade whether he wanted to confirm the service of the application after being shown the proof and the Attorney-General agreed that it had been served.
When it was clear that the application would elongate the pre-trial session, Sofunde applied for a six-day extension.
Ruling, Justice Alli Garba ordered the extension of the pre-trial conference till July 16, 2009 stressing that no further motions would be allowed after then, The Tribunal also stated that a specific date would be announced for the commencement of full trial in the governorship election petition re-trial.