By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, ABUJA
Candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, who alleged that the presidential election held on February 25, was rigged in favour of President Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, on Tuesday, called his first witness to testify before the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting in Abuja.
Obi’s first witness, Mr. Lawrence Nwakaeti, who told the court that he is from Ihiala in Anambra state, identified a document relating to a court proceeding in the United States of America, USA, pertaining to Tinubu’s alleged indictment in a drug-related-case.
Whereas the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, through its lead counsel, Mr. Abubakar Mahmood, SAN, said it was not opposed to the admissibility of the document.
On their part, both President Tinubu and the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, said they were vehemently opposed to the admissibility of the document.
Tinubu and the APC said they would however reserve their reasons for opposing the document, in their final briefs of argument.
Consequently, Justice Haruna Tsammani-led’s five-member panel admitted the document in evidence and marked it as Exhibit PA- 5.
While being cross-examined by INEC’s lawyer, the witness said he was a registered voter that participated in the presidential election held on February 25.
“I have my Permanent Voters Card and I voted at my polling unit located in front of my house at Umuezella Village Square.
“I did not play any other role except exercising my civic duty”, the witness, who said he was called to the Nigerian Bar as a lawyer, on October 13, 2000, added.
Asked by Tinubu’s lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, if he has ever visited the USA, the witness, said: “Yes my lords, I have been there at least once. That was in 2003. I was in Michigan”.
In a follow-up question, Olanipekun, SAN, asked the witness: “My learned friend, you stated emphatically in your statement that the 2nd respondent was fined the sum of $460,000.00. Do you still stand by that deposition?”
Answering, the witness, said: “Yes my lord, I stand by it.”
“Will you then be surprised that from the document which you tendered, there is no single line or even a word, relating to the issue of fine?”, Olanipekun, SAN, asked.
“My lords, I will be surprised because he was fined, and the document speaks for itself,” the witness replied.
“Are you aware if the said indicting document was registered in Nigeria or if any certificate was attached to it from any consular,” Olanipekun, SAN, queried?
“No, it was not registered. But
The documents were duly certified,” the witness stated, adding, “my lords, there is a certificate from the person that issued it. But there is no certificate from the consular”.
Also asked if there was a certificate from any police officer in the USA where the offence was allegedly committed.
The witness replied in the negative, saying; “My lords, there is no certificate as the police played no role in the indictment.”
On its part, the APC, through its lead counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, while cross-examining the witness, asked if he was aware of a letter dated February 4, 2003, which the Legal Attache to US Embassy, wrote to clear Tinubu of any complicity in the drug-related case.
“I am not aware of such a clearance letter,” the witness replied.