New Telegraph

FROM THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION PETITION TRIBUNAL

Last week at the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja witnessed some astonishing revelations as the petitioners continued calling various witnesses to testify against the election of President Bola Tinubu. In all, there are three main petition- ers challenging the February 25 election. They are the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar; the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi and the Allied People’s Movement. At last week proceedings, asides calling various witnesses, the petitioners closed their case against Tinubu, his party, All Progressive Congress and the Independent National Electoral Com- mission (INEC).

The proceedings are as follows;

Monday

The tribunal started the week by re- fusing President Bola Tinubu and the APC’s application to stop the Allied People’s Movement’s (APM) petition challenging his qualifications for the February 25, 2023 presidential election. Tinubu through his lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) had sought to use a Supreme Court’s judge- ment delivered on May 26, 2023 to termi- nate the APM’s petition, but the request was turned down. The grouse of Tinubu was that the sole issue raised in the petition of the APM had been resolved by the apex court in the judgement in a suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Olanipekun sought to move the court to invoke the spirit and letters of the supreme court’s judgement to halt hearing of the APM’s petition. The Presiding Justice of the Court, Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani, how- ever disagreed with Tinubu and held that the party cannot be shut out in the face of fair hearing. Justice Tsammani asked Tinubu to keep his objections against hearing of the petition to the final address stage of the court’s proceedings.

Similar objections raised by APC through its counsel, Charles Edosomwen SAN against the petition on the same ground was turned down by PEPT for the same reason. On that same Monday, three presid- ing officers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) told the court that they were unable to transmit the presidential election result via the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and this to a great extent frus- trated their jobs. The officers however admitted that the results of the Senate and the House of Representatives were transmitted unhindered and that the problems of technical hitches arose at the point of transmitting only the presidential poll results. Testifying on subpoena, the three witnesses admitted that the election process went well until the period the BVAS ma- chines refused to work.

Tuesday

At Tuesday’s proceedings, Atiku told the Tribunal that he would close his case against Tinubu the following day. Earlier, Atiku’s counsel, Chris Uche (SAN) had told the court that in spite of the spirit of cooperation that the court had appealed for, it was still difficult to get Certified True Copies (CTC) of docu- ments from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Responding, counsel to INEC, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), told the court that the documents even though certified, had not been paid for, adding that, it was the responsibility of the petitioners to sort out documents they subpoenaed. Uche, however said that some of the documents they seek to tender in the re- maining two days would take the place of the remaining 70 witnesses.

Wednesday

At Wednesday ‘s proceedings, the APM called one witness to testify against the election of Tinubu and consequently closed its case. The court later fixed July 14, 2023 for adoption of address. The witness, Aisha Abubakar, who identified herself as the Assistant Wel- fare Director of the party, tendered seven batches of documentary evidence before the court to establish APM’s case that Tinubu was not qualified to participate in the 2023 presidential election. Remarkably, all the respondents in the matter did not oppose the admissibility of the documents, which the Justice Haruna Tsammani-led five-member panel accordingly admitted in evidence and marked as exhibits.

Thursday

There was a stunning revelation at the Tribunal on Thursday, as a Digital Forensic Expert, Hitler Nwuala, told the court that INEC deliberately deleted all the results of presidential election from the BVAS machines of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) under the guise of preparation for the March 18 governorship election.

The forensic expert who was the 26th witness of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 25 Presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, claimed to have inspected 110 BVAS devices used during the presidential polls in the FCT and insisted that all the machines he inspected had their data deliberately deleted. Nwuala maintained during cross- examination by INEC’s counsel, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), that it was unnecessary for the electoral body to have deleted the presidential election result data from BVAS machines used in the FCT because the FCT did not hold governorship election.

The report was subsequently admitted as evidence and marked as exhibits despite objections by the respondents in the matter. Under cross-examination by counsel to INEC, Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, the witness said that he attached a standard device to the BVAS machine to carry out his investigation. However, INEC challenged his allega- tion, insisting that because he did not inspect all the machines, his claim was wrong but the witness maintained his stance. Meanwhile, counsel for Tinubu, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), pointed out dispari- ties in the forensic report concerning the number of machines inspected by the witness. The silk hinted that the report could equally be riddled with errors but the witness told the court that the differ- ences dictated in the numbers were typographical errors.

Friday

At Friday’s proceedings, the court ad- mitted in evidence a transcript in aid of admission into Chicago State University made by South West College in the name of President Bola Tinubu, who was identified as a female gender. Other documents tendered and in evidence by the petitioners and admitted as exhibits by the court are: a certified true copy of a certificate supposedly issued to Tinubu by the Chicago State University; a certificate of service by the National Youth Services Corps (NYSC) issued in the name of Tinubu Bola Adekunle; party membership card and certificate of service from Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc.

Also tendered by the petitioners are: notarised judgement of the USA Court for criminal forfeiture of asset of Tinubu, as well as a print out of the Guinea passport belonging to Tinubu. Also tendered were; a certificate of compliance, a witness statement on oath, along with other documents to prove the allegations contained in their petition challenging the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 presi- dential election. The lead counsel to the petitioners, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), while leading the 27th witness of the petitioners, Mike Enahoro-Eba, subpoened to come and testify in court, tendered the documents through the witness, who is an Abuja- based human rights activist and public interest lawyer. However, Olanipekun vehemently objected against the admission of Tinubu’s Chicago State University Degree as exhibit by the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja. He also kicked against tendering and admission of Tinubu’s Republic of Guinea International passport in aid of the petition instituted against him by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Abubakar Atiku and his party. Similarly, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) were also opposed to the admission of the documents by the court. However, inspite of the stiff opposi- tion, the Chairman of the Court, Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani, admitted all the documents as Exhibits PDE-1 to PDE- 5. Equally admitted in evidence and marked as an exhibit by the panel was Tinubu’s certificate of service from Mo- bil Oil Nigeria Plc, which formed part of his work records, as well as a copy of his Guinean Passport.

Meanwhile , Atiku had after calling his 27th witness closed his case be- fore the Presidential Election Petition Court. Atiku, who called a total of 27 witness- es and tendered several documentary exhibits in evidence before the court, said his decision to close his case was in view of the fact that he had exhausted the days that were allocated for him to present his case against Tinubu. The court later adjourned till July 3 for INEC to open its defence.

Read Previous

Sanwo-Olu, Oteh, Adesina move for Africa’s sustainability resources discourse

Read Next

Another Bundesliga club in to rescue Onuachu