June 6, 2023

Tinubu: I’ve paid over N6m, yet to receive many exhibits from INEC, Atiku laments

PDP @ 25: We’ll rise again — Atiku

…as the court defers the hearing till Wednesday to get Kogi state results, others

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri,ABUJA

Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Tuesday, accused the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of hampering the smooth presentation of the case he filed to challenge the outcome of the 2023 presidential election.

Atiku lamented that though he has paid
over N6 million for the certification of exhibits he intends to tender in evidence before the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting in Abuja, he said the Commission had yet to make the requested materials available to him.

Consequently, his lawyer, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, persuaded Justice Haruna Tsammani-led’s five-member panel to defer further hearing on the petition his client filed to nullify President Bola Tinubu’s election, till Wednesday.

Jegede, SAN, had at the resumed proceedings on the petition, sought to tender in evidence before the court, the results of the election from 10 out of 21 Local Government Areas, LGAs, in Kogi State.

Atiku’s lawyer told the court that though his client applied for electoral materials from all the LGAs in the state, however, he was only furnished with results from Ankpa, Dekina, Idah, Ofu, Olamaboro, Yagba East, Yagba West, Kabba-Bunu, Igalamela-Odolu and Kogi.

He drew the attention of the court to the fact that all the requested documents were earlier listed in the schedule of documents that Atiku and the PDP said they would rely upon to prove their joint petition against the declaration of President Tinubu of the APC as the winner of the presidential election that held on February 25.

Even though the petitioners sought to tender the exhibits available to them from Kogi state, pending the release of other documents by INEC, however, the Justice Tsammani-led panel stressed that the records of the court would not be tardy if such sensitive exhibits were admitted in evidence in piecemeal.

While requesting for an adjournment, counsel for the former Vice President told the panel that his client had subpoenaed top INEC officials to compel them to produce some of the requested electoral documents before the court.

He said the request for an adjournment was to enable his team to re-approach the Commission to urge it to do the needful.

Meanwhile, none of the respondents in the matter opposed the application for the matter to be adjourned till Wednesday.

Cited as respondents in the case marked: CA/PEPC/05/2023, are; INEC, President Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress, APC.

Atiku, who came second in the presidential election, had the joint petition he filed with the PDP, insisting that the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the presidential contest was “invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.”

The petitioners argued that Tinubu, who has since been sworn in as President, “was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast at the election”.

They told the court that President Tinubu, “was at the time of the election, not qualified to contest”.

In a further process, they filed before the court, Atiku and his party maintained that Tinubu had “demonstrated inconsistency as to his actual date of birth, secondary schools he attended (Government College Ibadan); his State of origin, gender, actual name; certificates evidencing Universities attended (Chicago State University).”

“The purported degree Certificate of the 2nd Respondent allegedly acquired at the Chicago State University did not belong to him but to a female (F) described as “F” in the Certificate bearing the name Bola Tinubu.

“The 2nd Respondent did not disclose to the 1st Respondent (INEC) his voluntary acquisition of the citizenship of the Republic of Guinea with Guinean Passport No. D00001551, in addition to his Nigerian citizenship. The 2nd Respondent is hereby given the notice to produce the original copies of his said two passports,” Atiku added.

The petitioners maintained that the APC candidate did not meet the constitutional threshold and “is constitutionally disabled from contesting for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

Atiku, is among other reliefs, praying for the court to declare that he was the valid winner of the presidential election, even as he applied for the withdrawal of the Certificate of Return that was issued to President Tinubu by INEC.

Already, the petitioners have called 10 witnesses that testified before the court, even as they tendered over 338 exhibits in evidence.

Among documents, the petitioners said they would tender before the court, included certified copies of results of the presidential election from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Other documents the petitioners have tendered before the court, included a printout of data they obtained from the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, that was deployed for the presidential election.

Aside from Form EC8E, Form EC8D(a), Form EC8D, Form EC-9 and Form EC-40G, which were sensitive materials, that were used for the election, which he tendered in evidence, Atiku said he would produce a total of 100 witnesses to testify before the court.

Whereas extracts from BVAS machines used in the 36 states and the FCT, were admitted and marked as Exhibits PG and PG 1- 36, the court, further admitted documents pertaining to the Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, and marked them as Exhibits PH, PH1 – PH 36.

Though all the respondents, including INEC, challenged the admissibility of the exhibits, they, however, told the court that they would adduce reasons for their objections, in their final written address.