Witness Drama Unfolds: Contradictions and Disowned Depositions Shake Kogi Election Petition Tribunal

Mild drama continued at the Kogi Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja on Monday as some witnesses disowned their depositions before the panel.

Four witnesses from the Adavi Local Government Area of the state gave evidence for the Social Democratic Party (SDP) before the three-member panel of justices led by Justice Ado Birnin-Kudu.

When called, the witnesses gave virtually the same narration regarding what transpired where they voted, even though they were in different polling units during the November 11, 2023, governorship poll.

Like the previous ones, the four witnesses adopted their witness depositions on oath.

However, during cross-examination by the defence counsel, they made claims that were different from those in the witness depositions.

When shown their deposition, they disowned it, saying it was not written by them while also confirming that they were not polling agents but random voters.

One of the witnesses, Rufai Muhammed, who said he was from Adavi Local Government, stated in his deposition that there was no validly accredited voter for the said election.

However, upon cross-examination, he said he was validly accredited to vote, and he did.

When his attention was drawn to his witness deposition on oath, which said there was no validly accredited voter for the election that he witnessed, he denied the deposition, saying he did not write it.

Another witness, Yakubu AbdulAzeez, said he stood at a particular point throughout the voting period on election day, observing the proceedings, and that it was from that point that he saw that there was over-voting.

Mr AbdulAzeez said he stood watching the voting process, but he could not stand during the tribunal hearing.

He told the panel that he had been suffering from a leg problem since 2008, and the panel directed that he should be given a seat.

Claiming that he stood for hours in a spot to monitor an election that took place in November 2023 thus became an issue of concern.

For his part, Hamza Abdul Azeez said he wrote a letter of complaint to the tribunal about over-voting. But when asked how many votes each political party scored in his polling unit, he said he did not know.

The witnesses said their lawyers wrote their depositions for them but added that they couldn’t remember the lawyers’ names.

The tribunal adjourned the matter until April 2 after Jibrin Okutepa, SAN, sought an adjournment.

While Kanu Agabi, SAN, represented the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Ibrahim Sani Muhammed, SAN, appeared for Governor Usman Ododo, and AbdulWahab Muhammed, SAN, represented the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the sitting.

The witnesses who testified on Monday were Hamza Abdul Azeez, Said Muhammed, Yakubu Abdul Azeez and Rufai Muhammed, all from Adavi Local Government Area of Kogi.

The SDP is challenging the victory of Mr Ododo of the APC in the November 11, 2023, governorship election in the state.

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