By; BUHARI B. BELLO, Jos
Chief Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and head of legal team to Sen. Jeremiah Timbut Useni, the People’s Democratic Party (petitioners) at the Plateau State Governorship tribunal has said that his greatest challenge was terror acts and death threats to some of their witnesses.
Ozekhome made this statement while answering questions from journalists and specifically to a question asked by on his challenges at the tribunal after closing petitioners’ case.
“Our greatest challenge within the period is that many of the witnesses were terrorized, they were threatened that they will be killed if they come here to testify. Indeed, some of them actually came. They were put in the hotels by the petitioners and on the day they were to testify, they chicken out. I told this honorable tribunal yesterday
“They chicken out and said they had just gotten phone calls that if they testify they should rather remain in Jos and never return to their destinations because, they would be dead. And they gave examples to my lawyers who were constantly interviewing them that it happened in 2015 when a witness testified and before he finished; his house was burnt down completely.
“So the witnesses told us straight away on phone when they had already vacated the hotels that ‘we need our lives, we are family men, we can no longer testify’. That has been the greatest challenge that we had”, said Ozekhome. He however said that by the grace of God and with the number of witnesses called, he believed they have established the case on the preponderance of evidence and on the balance of probability. “This is not a criminal case that you must prove beyond reasonable doubt, we never alleged any crime.”
He stated that they were able to show that there was cancellation of entries of results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) unilaterally contrary to the laws as testified by PW7, who is INEC Official who testified that INEC has no power to alter results of elections unilaterally behind the back of political parties and their agents. “That has been our case, that after Form EC81 was duly signed by polling agents and others (some of them were even forced to sign), INEC still went behind to alter some of these results in various forms like EC8b, EC8c and EC8d. That has been the case and we were able to established it”, he said.