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Politics of Thursday, 8 June 2023


Tribunal: Atiku calls INEC official as witness

Atiku Abubakar Atiku Abubakar

The Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubarkar, on Wednesday, called their first subpoenaed witness at the Presidential Election Petition Court, Abuja.

The subpoenaed witness is an ad hoc staff member of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

In a petition marked CA/PEPC/05/2023, Atiku and the PDP are challenging the emergence of President Bola Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 presidential election.

At the resumed hearing, counsel for the PDP, Chris Uche (SAN), informed the court that the petitioners were set to call their first subpoenaed witness who is an ad hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

However, counsel for the respondents in the case namely, INEC, Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress, objected to taking the testimony of the witness.

As soon as the witness entered the witness box and barely before he could take his oath, counsel for INEC, A.B. Mahmoud (SAN), raised an objection.

He informed the court that he was only served on Wednesday morning with the statement of the witness and as such he would have to study the statement to enable him to carry out a thorough cross-examination.

Similarly, Tinubu’s lawyer, Akin Olujimi (SAN) and APC’s lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), toed the same line of argument.

Responding, Uche argued that there was nothing strange in the statement of the witness to warrant an adjournment.

He pleaded with the court to take at least one of the subpoenaed witnesses to make judicious use of their allotted time.

The chairman of the five-man panel of PEPC, Justice Haruna Tsammani, proposed to stand down the proceedings for 30 minutes to enable the respondents to look at the documents and thereby cross-examine the first subpoenaed witness.

The INEC lawyer, however, insisted that the witness could not be taken because the witness “is said to be an ad hoc staff of the commission” and as such he would have to go and look at INEC’s records to enable him to prepare properly.

Following the respondents’ insistence, Uche urged the court to adjourn till Thursday (today).

Earlier, the PDP and Atiku called their 11th witness, the PDP chairman, Anambra, Ndubuisi Nwobu, who told the court during cross-examination by counsel for the APC that the results were disputed at the lower levels before they arrived at the state level.

Meanwhile, Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, who are also challenging Tinubu’s victory, on Wednesday, tendered in evidence the final results for the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

The Form EC8D(a) was tendered by Paul Annanaba (SAN) on behalf of the party and Obi as part of the evidence in support of the petition challenging the declaration of Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress as the winner of the February 25 presidential poll.

Following no objection from the respondents, the panel admitted the national document as evidence and adjourned till Thursday (today) for further hearing.