By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has closed his defence in the petition filed against his victory in the last general election by the defeated candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr. Emmanuel Jime.
The Governor who Saturday morning put up a personal appearance at the Tribunal, through his counsel, Mr. Sebastian Hon said he was closing his defense after calling one-star witness.
“We are closing our defense after calling one witness, which is okay for us, so we are not calling anymore witnesses,” he said
Counsels to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Oba Maduabuchi and that of the petitioner, Kehinde Eleja aligned themselves with the submission of the Governor.
Ruling, the Tribunal Chairman, Justice Adebola Olusiyi adjourned further hearing to August 19 for the PDP to open its defense.
Speaking shortly after the sitting, Governor Samuel Ortom said his presence at the tribunal was a mark of respect for the courts adding that he was confident that at end of the proceedings his victory in the March gubernatorial election would be reaffirmed by the tribunal.
“As far as I know, the governorship election in Benue state was free and fair and at the end of proceedings, I am optimistic that the tribunal will give me victory,” Ortom stated.
On his part, the Governor’s counsel, Mr. Hon, said the one witness called by the Governor to argue his defense was good enough adding “it was for the petitioners to prove their case and not the other way round except where the need arose.
“We saw clearly how the petitioner’s witness statement on oath was not sworn to and signed same as that of his star witness and how their witnesses contradicted themselves during examination. So it is not for us to help them out hence we closed our case,” he stated.
On his part, the petitioner’s counsel, Mr. Eleja said their case was hinged on the use of Card Reader and since the defense had closed its case after calling a witness it was left for the tribunal to rule on the matter at the end of proceedings.