By Edith Nwapi
Abuja, June 13, 2023
Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will appear before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) tomorrow, Thursday.
This was stated on Tuesday by Chris Uche, SAN lead counsel to Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in their ongoing petition.
In a petition marked CA/PEPC/05/2023, Abubakar Atiku and the PDP are challenging the outcome of the Feb.25 presidential election which declared President Bola Tinubu as the winner.
The respondents are Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), president Bola Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Uche said the INEC chairman will during his appearance testify on the conduct of the disputed presidential election.
Uche told the court that he does not want the respondents especially Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to be caught unawares.
Earlier, the petitioners called their 19th witness (PW19), Alex Ter, their first star witness to testify.
Ter is a lawyer and a politician, National coordinator of PDP’s National situation room.
Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN counsel for INEC however, objected when the witness was about to adopt his statement which were more than one.
Mahmoud told the Court that they objected on May 20 to the petitioners’ reply on the additional statements.
He stated that it was not pleaded in line with the provisions of the law and therefore, urged the court to dismiss it and uphold the objection.
He however, told the court that he would reserve their reasons for the objections which will be communicated at the final addresses.
Uche for the petitioners told the court that the objections INEC raised had been argued and ruling reserved by the court.
“Whatever objection that INEC has should be kept aside,” Uche said.
He, therefore, urged the court to overrule the objection and allow the process to go on.
He told the court that they are tendering Manual for the conduct of the 2023 election.
He said he will be tendering video clips of broadcasts, by the chairman of INEC on the preparation for the election and that of Festus Okoye, National Commissioner and Chairman of the Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC on the election.
He also said that he will be tendering European Union (EU) election observers mission broadcast alongside the transcripts and the certificates of authenticity of the three videos.
He said this was pursuant to Section 84 of the Evidence Act.
He also tendered INEC I-reV screen shots of the portal as of March 18 and March 19.
Also tendered was I-reV results portal at the polling units of March 1 and the transcripts and certificates of authenticity.
INEC did not object but Tinubu and APC objected, but all the respondents reserved their responses until their final written addresses.
Under cross examination by INEC’s lawyer, Mahmoud, the witness admitted that he was not at the National Collation Center but was at the PDP situation room in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He also admitted not being an ICT expert but that he based his report from information obtained from agents of the PDP at the collation centers.
The witness faulted INEC for not transmitting presidential election results electronically, adding that calculation errors led the electoral body into grave errors.
Also cross examined by Akin Olujimi SAN, counsel for Tinubu, the witness said that he came to the conclusion that the presidential election was invalid by reason of corrupt electoral practices as related to him by PDP agents.
Testifying as the petitioners’ 20th witness (PW20) was Olutunji Shelle.
He alleged during cross examination by INEC counsel that there were some secret polling units set up by APC in Lagos.
He, however, said he did not visit any.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the petitioners have called 20 witnesses so far out of 100 they told the court they would call.
Meanwhile, the five-man panel led by Justice Haruna Tsammani adjourned until tomorrow for further hearing of the petition.