In continuation of its hearing in the case instituted by PDP’s Chief Okey Ahiwe challenging the declaration of Mr Alex Otti as winner of the March 18 2023 governorship election in Abia State, Mr Iheanacho Obioma took to the witness box as DW2 (Defence Witness 2) for the 2nd Respondent, Mr Alex Otti who opened and closed his defence on Thursday, August 24, 2023.
Mr. Obioma who commenced his testimony by introducing himself as a Labour Party Chieftain and the Director General of Mr Alex Otti’s Campaign Council, tendered Labour Party’s Waiver Certificate for Alex Otti, a Copy of Otti’s resignation letter from APC, and three (3) other documents before the court and relied on his written deposition after adoption of same as his evidence-in-chief.
The intriguing part of his testimony came when he tendered a copy of Mr. Alex Otti’s NYSC discharge certificate to replace the controversial Reference Letter that Mr. Alex Otti had submitted to INEC on oath admitting that that was the only document he received from NYSC.
However, Chief Uche Ihediwa SAN, who represented Prof Paul Ananaba, SAN, lead counsel to the petitioners, vehemently opposed the admissibility of the “strange certificate” and informed the tribunal that reasons will be given in their final written address.
While being cross examined, Mr Iheanacho Obioma, DW2 for Alex Otti, conceded that he was not the Labour Party agent for Obingwa LGA even though he denied that result for the LGA was taken to Abuja, delayed for days before it was eventually declared.
But when he was asked to read his own written deposition to the court where he confirmed that Obingwa result was taken to Abuja for review, he became bewildered and agreed that P188, the contentious Obingwa LGA result, was not signed by any political party agent, not even that of Labour Party.
Grilled further on his written deposition, Mr Obioma said he was not aware that the IREV report which he said INEC relied on in Abuja to review Obingwa LGA result and made declaration therefrom had no record of reports from 570 polling units, admitting that he was not a forensic analyst but only a business man and politician.
He was then shown Certified True Copies (CTCs) of two High Court judgements that confirmed Chief Okey Ahiwe as the authentic PDP governorship candidate for the March 18, 2023 governorship election; CTC of an Umuahia High Court confirming Dr. Jasper Uche as his running mate, Copies of resignation letters of Chief Okey Ahiwe as Chief of Staff to the immediate past governor, and that of his running mate as a Lecturer respectively; CTC of Kano FHC that sacked Labour Party candidates and CTC of Kano Appeal Court ruling pursuant to that of Kano FHC Judgement.
After the cross-examination, counsel to Mr Alex Otti, Ken Ahia SAN, announced closure of their defence with just one witness from the 19 earlier scheduled.
The tribunal thereafter adjourned to Friday, August 25 for the 3rd Respondent (Labour Party) to open its defence.