Useni vs Lalong: Our witnesses receiving death threats – Ozekhome tells tribunal

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Mike Ozekhome (SAN), counsel to the gubernatorial candidate of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sen. Jeremiah Useni, on Thursday raised the alarm that their witnesses were threatened with instant death if they insisted on testifying for Useni.

It would be recalled that the petitioner (Useni) is at the Tribunal challenging the declaration of Simon Lalong as the winner of the 2019, governorship election in the state by the electoral umpire (Independent National Electoral Commission).

Ozekhome told the Tribunal that its ruling on Wednesday prompted him to open up on a precarious situation the petitioners had been battling with of recent.

“My Lords, I want it to be on record because of the ruling yesterday while I wasn’t here. My Lords, it is not everything you see that you tell the Tribunal but the ruling yesterday shows that we are not serious .We had 15 witnesses yesterday that had come from various places to testify and they told us that they were being threatened with instant death if they insist on testifying.

According to him, the said witnesses also claimed that they were seriously warned to remain in Jos and not make the mistake of going back to their original abode, should they insist and went ahead to testify in favour of the petitioners otherwise, the 2015 treatment that was meted out on some witnesses in Jos North would be repeated on them.

The Petitioner’s Counsel maintained that, “the pre-hearing conference report is very clear to the effect that any day a party failed to call a witness it would be counted against that party”.

In their responses, however, counsel to the respondents, Pius Akubo (SAN) and Garba Pwul (SAN) all described Ozekhome’s allegation as “frivolous”.

“To make this allegation from the Bar is serious, but I want my Lords to take it with a pinch of salt. If they are not ready to call more witnesses, they should close their case” said Akubo.

Pwul on the other hand, told the Tribunal that there has never been any case of attack on any PDP member in Jos North in 2015.

“My Lords, I live in Jos North and I want to say that nothing like that happened in 2015.

Ozekhome made it clear that, ” I had to bring this to the attention of the Tribunal so as to proved that we were not deliberately wasting time as the respondents wanted the Tribunal to believe.

The petitioners counsel further went ahead to tender more documents and call more witnesses who all complained on issues bordering on over voting and mutilation of voters card and results. Hearing continues tomorrow (Friday).

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