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The Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal yesterday ruled that it would not terminate the trial of the petition filed by Senator Iyiola Omisore.

The proceedings which witnessed legal and political theatrics took place as Senator Iyiola Omisore avoided the former Osun Governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola who entered appearance before the Tribunal in the legal team of Governor Aregbesola.

Senator Omisore entered the Tribunal venue at about 9.15 am and went to take his seat in the west wing of the court room without exchanging pleasantries with Prince Oyinlola who arrived earlier around 8.55 am and sat at the west wing.

Aregbesola and Omisore

Leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, including Otunba Sunday Ojo-Williams who were in court earlier went to greet the former governor with warm embrace and throwing of banters.

The ruling was sequel to the application filed by Governor Rauf Aregbesola seeking the order of the tribunal to dismiss Omisore’s petition because the reply to respondent’s reply was filed out of time and the pre- trial session form TF007 was filed out of time set by the Electoral Act, 2010.

Chairman of the panel, Justice Elizabeth Nkpejomi who noted that the application had to do with the jurisdiction of the Tribunal to handle the petition ruled that the rule guiding it was to save the time of the court.

According to the tribunal, the issue of jurisdiction is fundamental but in cases where time was of the essence, the application seeking to terminate the petition and the main petition should be heard together in order to do substantial justice to all the parties.

The tribunal chairman noted further that the respondents would not suffer any miscarriage of justice if the application was heard alongside the petition citing the case of Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria versus Nzeribe as the authority that gave basis to the decision.

Nkpejomi ruled further that; “we cannot locate any injury that any of the parties would suffer if we hear the application alongside the petition. Election petitions are sui generis in nature where time is of the essence.”

The tribunal moved quickly to the pre-trial conference, PTC, immediately after the ruling where parties agreed to file issues distilled for determination while further proceedings in the petition was adjourned till today.

Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN, lead counsel to Governor Aregbesola, Mr. Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, and Ayotunde Ogunleye for the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had opposed the application by Chief Chris Uche, SAN, the lead counsel to Omisore seeking the order of the tribunal to limit the time of cross-examination of witnesses to five minutes each.

The two silks had rather sought a minimum of twenty minutes for general witnesses and 30 minutes for expert and star witnesses as opposed to the five minutes requested by Uche.

The counsel agreed on the documents to be tendered with consent while those that would be disputed were also to be listed alongside the processes to be filed before the tribunal.

Justice Nkpejomi then adjourned the petition to tomorrow to give ruling on the various contentions raised during the pre-trial conference.

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