Petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Senator Iyiola Omisore, against the last August 9 governorship election in Osun State in which Governor Rauf Aregbesola of the All Progressives Party (APC) emerged victorious, yesterday scaled into the pre-trial stage at the election petition tribunal in Osogbo, the state capital.
The petition entered pre-trial stage because the 1st respondent, Governor Aregbesola, failed to stop the petitioner through his counsel, Chief Akin Olujimi, who had urged the court to dismiss the petition for lacking merit.
Olujimi and counsel to the 2nd respondent, APC, Kemi Pinhero, had, through their various applications, insisted that the petition was incompetent and also challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain it.
The chairperson of the tribunal, Justice Elizabeth Ikpejime, in her ruling refused to dismiss the petition, assuring that the applications of the respondents would be considered at the appropriate time as the trial progresses.
Counsel to the petitioner, Chris Uche, commended the tribunal for the ruling and applied for the commencement of the pre-trial immediately.
Justice Ikpejime granted his application for the pre-trial as there was no objection from counsel to the respondents.
During the pre-trial, Omisore’s counsel told the court that he frontloaded 1,000 witnesses in the volume one of the petition and that he had 2,000 witnesses in all. He noted that he would also call some experts as witnesses to testify before the tribunal.
Aregbesola told the tribunal that he frontloaded 610 witnesses and that he might streamline the witnesses if the need arose.
Counsel to APC told the tribunal that he had 605 witnesses and told the court that he might apply to call more witnesses.
Ikpejime urged the counsel to be mindful of the fact that the tribunal had less than four months to conclude its assignment and advised the parties to consider time to ensure speedy trial of the matter.
Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the 3rd respondent, Ayotunde Ogunleye, told the tribunal that his witnesses would need enough time to give their evidence because of the sensitivity of the INEC’s evidence.
Justice Ikpejime, however, adjourned the case till November 6.