At Thursday’s meeting of the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) gave the newly sworn-in Governor of the State, Ademola Adeleke of the Peoples Democratic Party, two blank documents that were supposed to be his Secondary School Certificate and Testimonial. This caused a bit of a stir (PDP).
This is right after the tribunal warned INEC that it would use its “Coercive Power” if it didn’t give clear and readable documents by December 3, 2022.
During its last meeting, the tribunal told the Chief National Electoral Commissioner of INEC to show the court Adeleke’s nomination form and credentials from the 2018 election for governor of Osun.
The first order to produce the documents was not followed by the electoral body because the documents were not in the possession of the Osun Resident Electoral Commissioner, who was subpoenaed to produce them.
On Thursday, when the petition was heard again, a woman named Joan Arams, who was representing INEC, brought in those blank forms.
Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), the lawyer for Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola and the APC, told the tribunal that Adeleke’s Secondary School Certificate and Testimony could not be read on the pages where they were written.
He said, “The title of the first document in question is “General Certificate in Education, West Africa Examination Council.” Other than the heading, the rest of the page is blank. The second is called “School Testimonial of Ede Muslim Grammar School,” and its words are also hard to read.
“My Lords, before we can release the INEC, we need to be sure that the right papers have been made,” Fagbemi said.
When the tribunal asked Professor Paul Ananaba, SAN, Counsel to INEC, what he thought, he said that since the documents had already been shown, the INEC representative should be asked to leave.
When asked more about Adeleke’s unclear certificate, Ananaba said that he wasn’t a witness in the case and couldn’t talk about the documents.
Adeleke’s lawyer, Onyeachi Ikpeazu, SAN, agreed that his client’s high school diploma wasn’t easy to read. He said, “I can confirm that the document is faint.”
He then said that since the petitioners already had a copy of the certificate, the witness whose testimony was based on the documents should be called to use the one in the petitioners’ possession.
Also, Alex Izinyon (SAN), a lawyer for the PDP, said that the documents, even though they were faded, could still be used as proof, and that the petitioners would talk about it in their final address.
Fagbemi replied again, “My Lord, if someone takes tests, his scores will show up in the results. In this one, though, those scores are not showing.
“The last time we came here, before your Lordships adjourned, we thought that someone would give us clear and readable documents. That’s why the respondents asked us to come today.”
Now, they say we should be able to handle this. We’re not doing well. After all, we paid N305,000 to have the documents made.
“For example, my learned friends say that they can see Ede Grammar School on the testimonial, but they can’t see the address underneath. Fagbemi said, “My Lords need to see all of these because they are very important to our case.”
While making a decision based on what the lawyers said, the tribunal said Adeleke’s certificate was really blank, with neither the name of the person who wrote the exam nor the result written on it.
The head of the court said, “We have also looked at those papers.
The name of the person who took the test is not written on the document, which is headed “West African Examinations Council” If the document is used as evidence, it will be hard to figure out what its value as proof is.
“In the same way, the said document doesn’t say where Ede Muslim Grammar School is located. So, “the first respondent has not fully followed the order of this tribunal by providing a document that can be read by the witness whose testimony depends on the documents,” the panel decided.
After the ruling, the lawyer for INEC asked the court to put the case on hold for an hour so that the documents in question could be made clearer.
After the break, the lawyer for INEC told the court that no matter how hard his client tried, he couldn’t get a clearer certificate that Adeleke was in his custody. He said that the only way to move forward was to bring the original file with the documents in question.
Then he asked that if the Petitioners had a better copy, they should bring it in and no one would object.
The lawyers for Adeleke and the PDP both said, “INEC can’t give what they don’t have.” They said that what they produced was the best they could do with what they had.
In line with his arguments, the tribunal asked the INEC lawyer to pick a date no later than Saturday, December 3, for the production of the file containing the documents or a clearer version of the documents in question.
The panel had to stop working for another 10 minutes so that the INEC lawyer could get in touch and tell them when the clearer documents would be ready.
When the panel came back, the INEC lawyer asked for a delay until Wednesday, December 7, so he could bring the documents in question. He said he was willing to lose a day of his defense time.
When making its decision, the tribunal called the request for a delay “unfortunate.” It said, “The case is reluctantly postponed to 3 December 2022 for the production of eligible copies of the pages of the said documents, failing which the coercive power of this tribunal will be used.”