Presidential Tribunal: Tension In APC Over Massive Exhibits
Candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Mr Peter Obi, who alleged that the 2023 presidential election was rigged, on Friday, tendered before the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting in Abuja, 136 additional exhibits to support his claim.
The exhibits, which were admitted in evidence by Justice Haruna Tsammani-led five-member panel, comprised of results of the presidential election from six states of the federation.
The states the court admitted their presidential election results contained in Forms EC8A, were; Adamawa, Bayelsa, Oyo, Edo, Lagos and Akwa Ibom.
Obi, who came third in the presidential election, told the court that the results he tendered in evidence, were certified true copies he obtained from the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
He had on Thursday, tendered results of the election from 115 Local Government Areas, LGAs, in Rivers, Niger, Benue, Cross River, Osun, Ekiti.
At the resumed proceedings on Friday, the petitioners, obtained permission from the court to submit additional results from six LGAs in Rivers State, which were admitted and marked as Exhibits PB 16 to PB 21.
However, INEC, opposed the admissibility of the additional results from Rivers State, which it said were “strange” to it.
Mr. Kemi Pinhero, SAN, who led INEC’s legal team, told the court that the Commission would advance reasons why it opposed the admissibility of the results, in its final written address.
Likewise, counsel that represented President Bola Tinubu and Vice President Kashim Shettima, Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN, as well as that of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, challenged the admittance of the results in evidence.
The respondents said they would equally reserve their reasons for objecting to the admissibility of the election results in their final written address.
Thereafter, Obi and the LP, tendered in evidence before the court, additional results from Bida LGA in Niger State, which was admitted as Exhibit PE 24.
Whereas the court admitted results from 21 LGAs in Adamawa state and marked them as Exhibits PH 1 to PH 21, it also admitted results of the presidential election from 8 LGAs in Bayelsa state and marked them as Exhibits PJ1 to PJ 8.
Also tendered, were results from 31 LGAs in Oyo, which the court admitted as Exhibits PK 1 – PK 31, while results from 18 LGAs in Edo state were marked as Exhibits PL1- PL 18.
The petitioners further tendered results of the presidential election from 20 LGAs in Lagos state which were admitted as Exhibits PM 1 – PM 20, with results from 31 LGAs in Akwa Ibom state, accepted in evidence as Exhibits PN 1 – PN 31.
It will be recalled that though Obi won the presidential election in Lagos state, he, however, alleged in his petition that there was massive suppression of votes in the state, adding that electorates that would have voted to him, were openly harassed or intimidated.
Meanwhile, by consensus of all the parties, the Justice Tsammani-led panel vacated its initial decision to continue the hearing on Saturday.
Even though lead counsel for the petitioners, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, said his team was ready to appear before the court on Saturday, however, counsel for all the respondents took turns to beg the court to shift further hearing of the case till next Monday, a request the panel acceded to.
It will be recalled that Obi and the LP had indicated their decision to call a total of 50 witnesses in the matter.
Specifically, Obi, in the joint petition he filed with the LP, is contending that President Tinubu was not the valid winner of the election.
The petitioners, in the case marked: CA/PEPC/03/2023, equally maintained that President Tinubu was not qualified to participate in the presidential contest.
According to the petitioners, as at the time Tinubu’s running mate, Shettima, became the Vice Presidential candidate, he was still the nominated candidate of the APC for the Borno Central Senatorial election.
The petitioners further challenged Tinubu’s eligibility to contest the presidential election, alleging that he was previously indicted and fined the sum of $460,000.00 by the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, in Case No: 93C 4483, for an offence involving dishonesty and drug trafficking.
On the ground that the election was invalid by reason of corrupt practices and non-compliance with the provision of the Electoral Act, 2022, the petitioners argued that INEC acted in breach of its own Regulations and Guidelines.
The Petitioners argued that the electoral body was in the course of the conduct of the presidential poll, mandatorily required to prescribe and deploy technological devices for the accreditation, verification, continuation and authentication of voters and their particulars as contained in its Regulations.
They are, therefore, praying the court to among other things, declare that all the votes recorded for Tinubu and the APC, were wasted votes owing to his non-qualification/disqualification.