The All Progressives Congress (APC) senatorial candidate for Benue South, Comrade Daniel Onjeh, has faulted Senator David Mark’s claim that he was never invited to testify from the witness box.
Mark, whose declaration as winner of the March 28 National Assembly election is currently being challenged by Onjeh at the Election Petition Tribunal in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, reportedly refused to testify from the witness box when he appeared at the tribunal on August 18.
But the former senate president had in a statement on Sunday by his media aide, Kola Ologbondiyan, denied he was called to enter the witness box.
The Director-General of the Onjeh Campaign Organisation, Mr. Matthias Omikpa, however, said Senator Mark was being economical with the truth.
He advised him to be truthful, to avoid misleading his followers and the public as an elder statesman.
A statement by Omikpa yesterday wondered why the senator and his team did not counter the story when it was first published that he would be appearing at the tribunal to defend his fifth term victory.
The statement said: “To say it was not the intention of Mark to appear in the witness box to testify at the tribunal is merely an afterthought. Their belated reaction to this glaring fact betrays their sincerity on the subject.
“Through a motion on notice for additional witness statement on oath, David Mark deposed to an affidavit on his written statement as a star witness. At the sitting of August 13, Mark’s counsel, Kenneth Ikonne, to the hearing of everyone, including reporters, told the tribunal that his client, the first respondent, Senator David Mark, was coming to testify at the adjourned date, which was August 18 and accordingly, Mark appeared at the adjourned date for the first time since the tribunal started sitting on Onjeh’s petition.
“It’s a fact in law, which Senator Mark as one-time number one lawmaker should know that to give life an effect to one’s written statement on oath, it must be adopted before the trial court from the witness box, and the deponent is consequently cross-examined.
“Whether by joke, Mark’s counsel at the sitting told the tribunal why he would not allow his client to be cross-examined, saying he wouldn’t want the petitioner’s counsel, Tunji Oso, to harass Mark.
“If one may ask, why did Mark depose to a written witness statement on oath in defence of the petition against him by Comrade Onjeh? Was it for fun sake? Of all the sittings, why was it the only one his counsel announced that he would come to testify and be cross-examined, David Mark appeared? But did he testify?
“We were right inside the tribunal at the sitting Mark attended; he already took position at the witness bench in readiness to enter the box. As we all awaited the entry of the panel of judges into the open court, the tribunal secretary and other officials of the court dragged in about nine big ‘Ghana-Must-Go’ bags loaded with Onjeh’s evidence that were tendered and admitted by the tribunal as exhibits against the three documentary evidence, which were newspapers tendered for Mark.
“On sighting them, suddenly we noticed this strange uneasiness by Mark, then his younger brother, Igoche and his counsel went to sit by him, obviously to encourage him, but it appeared that failed before the tribunal chairman and other members of her panel appeared. Its obvious Mark declined entry into the witness box for fear of being grilled and the attendant embarrassment. The society today is not as gullible as they thought. Our advice to Mark and his camp is, rather than this distraction, they should concentrate on their defence”.