By Gbenga Olarinoye
The Justice Alli Garba-led Osun State Governorship Election Petition Retrial Tribunal yesterday overruled observations made by Chief Nathaniel Oke (SAN), leading counsel to Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the certified true copies of ballot papers tendered by the petitioner, Mr Rauf Aregbesola and the Action Congress (AC).
While ruling on Okeâ€™s observation, the tribunal described his observation as lacking merit and barred him from further doing so since what he was saying was not contained in the joint inspection report submitted to it.
Also, the tribunal ordered parties conducting joint inspection of ballot papers to begin the exercise at 9.00 a.m. and conclude it at 6.00 p.m. daily for the next four days so as to fast track the exercise.
Delivering the second ruling yesterday, Justice Garba declared that though Oke had the right to raise any observation during the proceedings, whatever he had to say on the joint inspection ordered by the tribunal ought to have been contained in the report made available to it.
Oke had observed without objecting to the tendering of ballot papers by Chief Charles Uwensuyi Edosomwan (SAN), leading counsel to Aregbesola and the AC that some of the documents were not certified while others were illegible.
Oke particularly observed that while there were a total of 428 registered voters for Customary Court Hall polling unit in Olufi Ward, Gbongan in Ayedaade Local Government, Aregbesola was tendering 960 certified true copies of ballot papers before the tribunal.
As he was making this observation, Edosomwan objected to Okeâ€™s approach insisting that the purport of his argument was unclear. He asked Oke to either raise an objection or tender evidence the proper way rather than wasting the time of the court.
What Oke was doing, he argued further, had already been caught up by issue estoppel, stressing that the team carrying out the inspection had jointly signed a report that contained all observations made during the exercise.
He noted that what Oke was saying was not contained in the report and should be discountenanced by the Tribunal.
The Tribunal consequently upheld Edosomwanâ€™s objection and overruled Oke but when he attempted to raise the issue again, Aregbesolaâ€™s counsel submitted that the earlier ruling of the Tribunal should not be assailed in any way.
Earlier while extending the inspection period for another four days, Justice Garba ordered the petitioners to increase the number of counsel in their inspection team from six to ten while Oyinlola and the PDP were to increase theirs to eight.