Cross River election panel adjourns to Aug. 14, as Gov. Otu, APC close defence

The court also warned the counsel to both parties to ensure that their written addresses did not exceed 40 pages.

Justice Oken Inneh, Chairperson of the Cross River Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, (EPT) has adjourned the proceedings on the matter between Gov. Bassey Otu and Sen. Sandy Onor to Aug. 14.

Inneh who gave the litigants 10 days to file their written addresses for adoption before adjourning the proceedings, warned counsel to both parties to ensure that their written addresses did not exceed 40 pages.

Earlier, Otu, represented by Prof. Mike Ozekhome, SAN, called one witness, Dr. Erim Agbo, Assistant Organising Secretary of the APC in the state.

The APC, represented by Essien Andrew, SAN, also called a witness, Mr Effiong Umo, the State Assistant Legal Adviser of the APC.

Before commencing his testimony, the governor’s witness, Agbor, adopted his witness statement which he deposed on May 18.

He confirmed that the second respondent, Otu, was generally cleared to contest the elections by his party while the third respondent, Mr Peter Odey, Deputy Governor of Cross River, was a member of the APC, tendering his party’s membership register.

He also told the court that it was not the practice to delete the name of a member because he or she resigned and that it was possible to still have names of members who had either resigned or were dead.

On his part, the APC witness, Umo, confirmed that he interacted severally with the second and third respondents as regards credentials and their competence to contest the gubernatorial elections.

He also confirmed that the acquaintance and information they loaded him with severally and collectively formed the basis of his witness deposition.

He equally confirmed that he scrutinised all the documents presented by the second and third defendants before advising his party.

At the end of the day’s proceedings, counsel to the petitioners, Dr. Jonah Musa, SAN, said the witnesses called were not the ones who could answer questions on the personal documents of the second and third respondents.

According to him, “whatever they say is documentary hearsay,” he said.

Also reacting, Ozekhome, Counsel to Otu, said in law, “the burden of proof is in he who asserts, he who makes an allegation must prove it”.

He said the petitioners alleged that Odey the Deputy Governor must have taken the oath of allegiance to Great Britain but he said he did not and at this stage, the burden of proof is with them to bring any document to show.

“Having failed to bring any document, their case collapses because they are no longer basing the case on malpractices.

“I tendered four judgments which are with the same parties in the dispute and in all these cases, the court held that they were fully qualified and that there was no disqualifying element in their credentials

“Dual citizenship is not a disqualifying factor and so, I can assure you we have been wasting our time here,” Ozekhome, said.

While Gov. Otu was accused by PDP candidate of not having the required academic certificate to contest the March 18 governorship election, his deputy is accused of taking oath of allegiance to Great Britain.