Counsels to both parties said they are closing their cases for tactical reasons.
Attendees at the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Akure, Ondo State capital were startled when counsel to the first and second respondents, Olusegun Mimiko and Labour Party, LP, announced the closure of their cases.
The closure came before the expiration of the five days allotted each respondent to defend their cases before the tribunal.
The first respondent, Mr. Mimiko, began to call his witnesses on Tuesday and was scheduled to close his case on Friday after the mandatory five days offered him to defend his case using witnesses and documents expected to be tendered.
However, counsel to Mimiko, John Bayeshea, said they had critically analyzed the case and arrived at a conclusion that it is legally convenient for them to close the case.
Mr. Bayeshea said it is their right to close their case for tactical reasons best known to them.
Also, counsel to the second respondent, Labour Party, Ayo Olanrewaju, yet to open his case, told the Tribunal that the party will not call any witness, saying he relied on the witnesses called by the first respondent, Mr. Mimiko. He therefore closed the party’s submissions without starting.
Mr. Mimiko was able to call 15 witnesses. 13 were accepted while the remaining two were rejected for not being listed as witnesses. He had reduced the number of his witnesses during the tribunal pre-hearing ruling on presentation of facts and witnesses from 1,700 to 850 while LP cut its witnesses from 2,023 to 600
The counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Tunde Falola, said he was so surprised at the position and turn out of things at the court by the first and second respondents.
Mr. Falola described the submissions of the first and second respondents to close their cases as a welcome but shocking development.
He said that INEC will hopefully open its case today as there will be need to carefully examine its witnesses from all the nook and crannies of the state thoroughly.
Counsel to Rotimi Akeredolu and the Action Congress of Nigeria, Kazeem Gbadamosi, said it is good that the first and second respondents are closing their cases, adding that his party did not oppose the action.
Giving his ruling, the Chairman of the three-member panel, Justice A. Kaka’n ruled that the cases of the first and second respondents are considered closed and adjourned till Friday when INEC is expected to open its case.