4th October, 2011
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on Tuesday continued with the defence of the victory he secured at last April’s Presidential election before the Presidential election petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja.
The President, through witnesses he called during the proceedings today, reaffirmed that his victory at the polls was not through intimidation of officials of the Independent National Election Commission or the electorates, snatching of ballot boxes and multiple rigging as is being alleged by the Congress for Progressive Change which is gunning to upturn his victory.
Jonathan’s witness from Anambra, Katsina, Akwa Ibom and Benue states all gave evidence testifying that the election was freely and fairly conducted devoid any form of intimidation and manipulation of any sort in their respective states.
After leading 7 of the witnesses through their respective depositions, the President’s legal team led by Dr. Alex Izinyon requested for a short adjournment to enable them prepare their last set of witnesses for their testimonies.
At this point, the court demanded to know whether the Editor and Correspondent of Tribune Newspapers which the court had earlier invited to appear before it over a controversial account of the court’s proceeding reported by the paper last Thursday, were in court as demanded by the court.
The Editor, Mr. Dickson Edward and the Correspondent, Mr. Chris, alongside their lawyer, Mr. Akinjide Sodiq appeared before the court brandishing copies of the Press Release sent to the Correspondent’s email box by the National Publicity Secretary of the Congress for Progressive Change, which formed the basis of the controversial report in the paper’s edition of last week Thursday.
The Court however observed that the Press Release was not signed by the alleged author, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin. The Tribune team tendered copies of previous correspondence which their reporter attached to the CPC had received from the same Fashakin to prove that he indeed authored the Press Release even though he did not append his signature to them.
The President’s lawyer, Dr. Izinyon, who was very bitter about the publication which portrayed the President as having compromised the judiciary and impugned on the integrity of the judiciary, pleaded with the court to detain the Tribune team pending when Mr. Fashakin would be summoned to appear before the court to give evidence on the contents of the Press Release which he evidently authored.
But for the interventions of Mr. Oladipo Kposeyi and Abubakar Ibrahim Malami, both senior advocates and lawyers to the CPC who pleaded with the court to tread cautiously in handling the matter so as not to be distracted from the time sensitive proceedings before it and, the Tribune duo would have been detained pending when Fashakin would appear to throw light on his authorship of the Press Release.
Izinyon had told the court that the Newspaper shares part of the liability of the offending report with the author since it published it without investigating the weighty claims in the release but Malami, while maintaining his position for the court to tread softly over the matter, observed that the call for detention of the Tribune officials was premature as they both responded to the court’s summons timeously as demanded by the court noting that such attitude should be commended.
While argument was going back and forth on whether to detain them or not, the visibly frightened Editor, Dickson Edward, profusely apologized to the court for the error on the Newspaper’s part over the publication of the controversial report. He apologized for the controversy generated by the story and stated that Tribune Newspaper did not share or believe in the content of the contentious press release.
He also informed that court that the Newspaper refrained from publishing an apology before appearing before the court and promised that such a thing will never happen again.
The court subsequently adjourned till Wednesday to consider the Editor’s apology and issued a subpoena compelling the presence of Rotimi Fashakin, the Spokesman of CPC, before the court on Thursday the 6th of October.
By Nnamdi Felix/Abuja