Tue. Sep 17th, 2019

Nsima v. Udom: Can anything good come out for Nsima Ekere?

Tribunal reiterates ruling that witnesses cannot be cross examined on documents neither made nor tendered by him

1.0 FIRST OF ALL (INTRO)

The proceedings at the Governorship Election Petiton Tribunal, sitting in Uyo the Akwa Ibom state capital, where the Petition by Obong Nsima Ekere against the re-election of His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanuel is being heard has assumed a rather monotonous twist since the opening of the 1st Respondent’s case.

2.0 THE FACTS:

The 1st Respondent, Mr Udom Emmanuel has filled thirteen witnesses so far. Each of the thirteen witnesses have adopted their witness’ deposition on oath and have all identified their ward and polling unit results as ward and unit agents, in that order. Those whose results were cancelled have also stated so with reasons why such decisions were taken without equivocation nor variableness. Two of the eleven witnesses who testified as polling unit agents from certain polling units in Essien Udim even affirmed that the APC won the elections in their unit. What is clear in the Tribunal for the three days running since the 1st Respondent opened his case are that:

THE 1ST RESPONDENT HAS BEEN LOGICAL AND ORGANISED IN THE PRESENTATION OF HIS CASE, NONE OF THE WITNESSES HAS TOLD A LIE, JUDGED FROM THEIR GENERAL COMPOSURE AND MIEN.

3.0 THE CONUNDRUM:

The disturbing thing however has been with the case of the Petitioner. The Petitioner’s legal team lead by Ernest Ojukwu, SAN has repeated the same set of questions under cross examination for the thirteen witnesses filled by the 1st Respondent. Prof. Ojukwu has spent all his time under cross examination asking the witnesses to speak to the documents made and tendered by INEC in the petition. He has spent all his time pointing the witnesses to the voter register and has asked them to confirm whether their names were ticked or there was any tick beside their names which to him is evidence that the voter was accredited. This, the professor has repeated despite the the Court’s leading that such questions are irrelavant since the documents were neither made nor tendered by the cross examined witnesses.

While most of the witnesses would simply return a “yes or no” in answer to this very monotonous “is there a tick on the box” question, some of them simply revolted and answered that IT WAS NOT THEIR JOB TO TICK OR NOT TICK THE BOXES as they simply complied with INEC’s directive at the polling units for accreditation and went ahead to vote.

4.0 LET’S LEARN SOME ELEMENTARY LAW:

Now the question; Can anything come out of these monotonous “is there a tick” series of questions for Obong Ekere?

First, it is trite to note that the 1st Respondent in the Petiton is His Excellency, Mr Udom Emmanuel and not the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). It must be further noted that none of the witnesses called by the 1st Respondent is a staff or official of INEC who is the 3rd Respondent in the Petition. Again, all the documents that the Petitioner has decided to cross examine the 1st Respondents witnesses with are documents made by the INEC and tendered in the Tribunal by the INEC.

It is a trite principle of law that only the maker of a document or the witness who tenders the documents in court can be cross examined on such documents. Whatever cross examination questions being put to a witness who neither made nor tendered the document would go to no issue. There are a plethora of judicial authorities in support of this position. SO PROF. OJUKWU BEING A PROFESSOR OF LAW SHOULD KNOW THIS. But he has kept to his guns in asking these irrelevant questions; can we close our eyes and say he does not know? Should we hope that he has some legal *njakiri* or *nsibide* that will turn known legally irrelavant questions to legally relevant questions?

Moving a step further, is it the duty of voters to tick the voter register after accreditation? If INEC officials fail to tick as maybe the case that Prof. Ojukwu, SAN is trying to make, does that in fact mean that there was no accreditation? Is the tick compulsory? Has the Proffessor forgotten the ruling of the court in Nyesom Wike vs. Peterside where the court held that:

*”Accreditation of voters by the card reader machine is valid accreditation …. where the INEC fail to tick the voter register, it suffices if the card reader report show that a voter was accredited*?

Has the professor even forgotten that there is an electronic device called the CARD READER that automatically verifies voters by reading the voter’s card and thump print?

If we leave the professor alone, we must ask this all important question: CAN ANYTHING GOOD COME OUT OF THIS PROCESS FOR OBONG NSIMA EKERE?

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