All is not well with Obong Nsima Ekere’s legal team under the new leadership of Prof. Ernest Ojukwu, SAN since the nicodemus exit of Okutepa, SAN.
Since the commencement of the 1st Respondents’ case, Prof. Ojukwu, SAN has so far had a fruitless stroll through the cross examination for all the 1st Respondents’ witnesses. The poor outing started on Wednesday, July 31, 2019 when the learned silk was caught and sadly defeated in a bloodless war with the star witness of the 1st Respondent, Emmanuel Enoidem, Esq, the State Collation Agent of the Peoples Democratic Party, in the March 9 elections.
On August 1, 2019, the Learned professor also had a poor outing as he did not succeed in contradicting the evidence of any of the six witnesses filled by the 1st Respondent.
Today, August 2, 2019, the Learned professor, maybe out of frustration attempted severally to the arm-twist the court on an erroneous path. First, the learned professor secretly applied for exhibits from the court registry which he intended to use in the cross examination of the 1st Respondents’ witness. This is against the practice of the court. As pointed out by Assam Assam, SAN, counsel can only ask for the exhibit by formally and vocally requesting for same to the court who would then direct the registry to avail counsel of the exhibit needed. The court agreed with Assam Assam, SAN stating further that such was in keeping with the nitigrity of the fair hearing principle of law and in accordance with the practice of the Honourable Tribunal. He thereupon ordered that the exhibits already received behind the Respondents’ counsel and without the direction of the Tribunal be returned. The court further cautioned the learned professor against attempting to take procedures not known to the Tribunal.
In another development, the learned professor sought to use 30 minutes for the cross examination of one of the 1st Respondents’ witness who served as a Local Government Agent in the March 9 elections. This was roundly condemned by the Tribunal who reminded the learned professor that election petitions are sui generis and time sensitive. They referred the professor to the Pre-Hearing schedule resolution which had alloted 20 minutes for cross examination of star witnesses, 15 minutes for subpoenaed witnesses and 10 minutes for all other witnesses. The learned professor was subdued to the alloted 10 minutes which he used to ask the witness questions bothering on accreditation of voters at some polling units in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area.
With the series of poor outings by the learned professor, comments from the Petitoner’s camp suggest that there are missing the services of the ever comical Okutepa, SAN who has not been seen in court since the Petitoner closed his case.
Rumours hold that Obong Ekere had berated Okutepa, SAN after his outing in the witness box saying that he, Okutepa, SAN did not prepare him for the questions put to him by the Respondents’ counsel under cross examination. As a fall out of such misunderstanding, the learned SAN had stormed out of Obong Ekere’s house in anger and promised to withdraw his services as lead counsel in Obong Ekere’s petition.