New Telegraph

Presidential Poll: Tinubu to open defence of his election today

President Bola Tinubu will today open his defence to petitions seeking to nullify the February 25 election wherein he emerged as the winner. Tinubu, through his team of lawyers led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) yesterday applied to commence the defence of his election victory, immediately the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), closed its own defence. The Court consequently granted the application.

INEC while defending the election produced one witness that testified in the petition the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, filed to challenge the outcome of the 2023 presidential election. The electoral body equally tendered four documentary exhibits in evidence, among which included a letter dated July 6, 2022, which the Vice President, Kashim Shettima, wrote to notify it of his decision to withdraw as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Borno Central Senatorial election. Led in evidence by INEC’s lead counsel, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) the witness, Lawrence Bayode, who is a Deputy Director of ICT at the Commission, tendered the letter and its accompanying certification, which was admitted in evidence and marked as Exhibits RA-1 and RA- 2.

While being cross- examined by Tinubu’s counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), the witness, insisted that the presidential election held on February 25, was “free, fair, credible and conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act.” Answering questions from APC’s counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) the witness told the court that the technical glitch that was experienced on election day did not affect the actual scores of all the presidential candidates, which he said remained intact.

“INEC does not have an electronic collation system,” he insisted, adding that INEC had few days to the presidential poll, and announced that electronic transmission of results of the election would not be feasible. However, while being cross-examined by coun- sel to the Petitioners, Chief Chris Uche (SAN) the witness told the court that the European Union (EU) Observation Mis- sion was accredited by INEC to monitor the 2023 general elections. Asked if he was aware that the EU had released its final report on the elec- tion, the witness said: “Yes I am aware, but I have not seen it.” When he was shown a certified copy of the EU’s report and asked to read from a portion of it, the Respondents raised objections.

The witness, however, maintained that techno- logical innovations that INEC introduced into the electoral process were to guarantee transparency and integrity of the results. Shortly after he was dismissed from the wit- ness box, INEC’s counsel told the court that his client would not call any other witness in the matter.

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