BY IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI, Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, approached the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, which is sitting as the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, to adduce reasons why President Goodluck Jonathan should remain in office till 2015.
The ruling party through its team of lawyers comprising 10 Senior Advocates of Nigeria, urged the Justice Kumai Bayaang Akaahs led five-man panel of Appeal Court Justices presiding over the petition filed by the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, to discountenance the contention of the petitioner and re-affirm President Jonathan as the bona-fide winner of the April 16 Presidential election in the country.
To further buttress its position, PDP brought four witnesses that testified before the election tribunal yesterday.
The witnesses who took turns and gave oral evidence in court yesterday, refuted allegations that President Jonathan benefited from an electoral process fraught with manifest irregularities, just as they certified the presidential poll as free, fair and credible.
The first PDP witness, Mr. Hosea Ibim, a supervisory agent that monitored the presidential election in Taraba state, while under cross-examination, described depositions by the CPC that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, deliberately stalled the distribution of electoral materials on the election date, as a malicious fallacy.
In an affidavit he deposed before the court, Ibim swore that he was physically present at the Maraba ward police station on April 16 when both sensitive and non-sensitive materials were dispatched to various polling centers by the electoral body, just as he debunked allegations of ballot box stuffing by thugs allegedly sponsored by PDP with a view to ensuring that its candidate, President Jonathan emerged victorious.
He justified the number of votes ascribed to president Jonathan in the state by INEC, stressing that there was large turnout of voters for the presidential poll.
Other PDP witnesses that testified in favour of President Jonathan yesterday were, Mr Chukwaka Ene from Enugu state, Mr. Soja Dantanimu from Taraba and Mr Abdulrahman Mohammed Dutse.
Meantime, lead counsel to the PDP, Mr. J.K Gadzama, SAN, yesterday re-iterated the resolve of the ruling party to call a total of 135 witnesses to appear before the tribunal to testify against the petitioner, CPC.
It would be recalled that PDP opened its defence yesterday, which was a day after its candidate, President Jonathan, closed the his own defence after he had called 26 witnesses that testified in his favour.
Among those that testified for him were the Minister of Defence, Mr Bello Haliru Mohammed, the Minister of state for Education, Chief Ezebunwo Nyesom Wike, the Acting Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Kawu Baraje, a former House of Representatives member, Chief Mau Ohuabunwa and a chieftain of the petitioner in Akwa Ibom state, Mr Samuel Charles Etuk.
In his testimony, the Defence Minister, Bello, who was the Acting National Chairman of the PDP at the time the presidential election held, told the tribunal that the petitioner had no basis to challenge the results credited to his party, PDP, by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, adding that prior to the presidential contest, over 42 political parties openly adopted President Jonathan as their consensus candidate.
After listening to the oral evidences of the four witnesses that were brought to court yesterday, the tribunal adjourned further hearing till Monday.
The CPC is asking the tribunal to nullify the presidential election and order a re-run between it and the ruling PDP.
It is specifically challenging all the results garnered by the PDP in all the 17 states in the South, as well as in Sokoto, Kaduna, Plateau, Kwara, Benue, Adamawa, Nasarawa states, in the North and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.