One of the most exciting moments of any election petition tribunal is cross-examination. And the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on-going in Abuja is living up to such billing.
After having throughly dissected three witnesses on Wednesday, July 31, 2019, with his lethal cross-examining tactic, the petitioners’ lead counsel, Dr. Livy Uzouwku, SAN picked up from where he stopped as he drilled all four witnesses presented today by the second Respondents from one blunder into another.
Somebody said withstanding cross-examination with lies is a very difficult task and Dr. Uzoukwu is more than making witnesses prove this statement in court.
First, it was Henry Osundeinde Sunday Adewunmi, the deputy registrar of WAEC, who came to attest on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari’s contentious certificates.
He was on subpoena and affirmed his depositions stating that Buhari, with 17 other candidates, sat for a Cambridge-moderated examination in 1961. Also that Buhari sat for eight papers and obtained five credits with aggregate 32 meriting him with Grade 2. This was backed up with documents attesting to the fact as exhibits.
Buhari’s lead counsel, Wole Olanipekun, SAN and APC’s lead counsel, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN had smartly propped up the first witness of the day by making it seem the affirmations were backed up by WAEC and Cambridge certificates … until Dr. Uzoukwu took over.
The Petitioners’ lead counsel started by pleading the court to avail the witness with exhibits R19 and R21. The WAEC boss, who stated he has been working in WAEC for 30 years, was then asked by Dr. Uzoukwu and he confirmed that one exhibit listed Buhari as having sat for eight papers while the other listed him as having sat for six.
Next the cross-examiner asked the witness to read the names on both the WAEC and Cambridge attestations, which the witness complied.
Dr. Uzoukwu told him to spell the first name on both documents, which the witness complied with…
“Thank you,” responded Dr. Uzoukwu. “Now, take a look at the exhibits before you. You are the deputy registrar of WAEC and has been with them for 30 years. Is that WAEC certificate?”
After taking some while hesitating, the witness responded, “No. “
“Thank you,” Dr. Uzoukwu drove on, “now, have you ever worked in Cambridge?”
“All the same, take a look at that document as exhibit R21 before you. Is that a certificate?”
“Therefore, I hope you know when such attestations are issued. I know of just two instances – when one loses or misplaces his certificate, am I right?”
By this moment, the WAEC boss must have been wishing for heavens to save him from the cross-examiner by whisking him out of the court. A wish that was soon granted by the Tribunal chairman Justice Mohammed Garba. Time had caught up with Dr. Uzoukwu while he was pursuing to tie Mr. Adewumni with tauter strings by referring to the fact where the WAEC Registrar, Iyi Uwadaie purportedly said WAEC issued Buhari an attestation.
Yes, time saved Mr. Shodeinde from further punishment but it certainly won’t save his shaky testimony in the final address.
Similarly, the Petitioners’ lead counsel tore the next three witnesses apart by exposing holes in their testimonies, prompting Olanipekun to strategically call for an adjournment to tomorrow.
The Buhari lead counsel, despite having a lorry full of witnesses waiting within the court premises, knows he has a very bad case and needed to quickly restrategise.
Report on how Dr. Uzoukwu handled the other three witnesses will be coming shortly.