12th July, 2019
The chance of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar in the Feb. 23 presidential election to present 400 witnesses listed in their petition against President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election within the remaining three days continued to tick away.
All parties in the matter had agreed to open and close their cases within specified period.
The parties therefore agreed to workable modalities in the management of time to ensure the petition was dispensed within the 180 days allowed by the Electoral Act.
Flowing from the agreement, the ten days allotted to the petitioners to open and close their argument which commenced on July 4 would expire on July 17.
NAN reports that all the respondents were also given six days to present their responses to the petitioners’ allegations.
In the light of this, the respondents are expected to open their separate defences between July 18 and July 25.
To the chagrin of visitors to the tribunal on Friday, the petitioners had urged to the court to adjourn until July 15.
Chief Chris Uche, SAN, Counsel for the petitioners had informed the tribunal that their witnesses earmarked for the day could not be reached.
Uche said the witnesses who were based in Zamfara State were attacked by armed men while on their way to Abuja on Thursday.
Dr Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, the lead counsel for the petitioners, rose to complement the information being availed the tribunal by Uche, adding that the witnesses were yet to be found.
“My Lords, it is true that those we have listed to present for further testimonies were attacked while coming to Abuja from Zamfara state, and therefore it will be impracticable to go further. We pray for an adjournment until Monday, July 15 for continuation’’, Uzoukwu said.
So far, the petitioners have tendered 31,287 exhibits to prove various allegations of malpractice in the poll, but have presented less than 60 out of the 400 witnesses.
Earlier, Mr Oseni Haruna, Local Government Area Collation Agent for PDP told the court that violence and over voting marred the process, but was unable to provide cogent evidence to substantiate those claims.
Similarly, Mr Zakari Ibrahim, another Local Government Area Collation Agent of the first petitioner there were clear collusion between the security forces and electoral officials.
When crossed examined whether he signed forms EC8C (Result Sheets) from the polling units and wards, Ibrahim agreed to have signed the result sheets.
On his part, Silas Paris, also a Local Government Collation Agent of PDP from Borno State said there were unpardonable arithmetic errors in the results INEC declared in the his local government.
Paris, however, failed to provide the authentic results he claimed were received from the party’s agents at both polling units and wards levels.
Mr Usman Adamu, also an agent of the PDP in Ningi Local Government of Borno State told the court that the election was characterized with vote buying, over-voting and ballot snatching.
During his cross examination on how many polling units he visited during the course of performing his function, Adamu informed the panel that he visited 30 out of the 232 polling units in the local government.
He also told the tribunal that he could not remember the number of ballot boxes that were snatched.
Adamu concluded by telling the panel that he signed the final result sheet containing the number of votes both Atiku and Buhari garnered.
Mr Hassan Maisarafa, another agent of the PDP from Potiskum in Borno State informed the tribunal that the Chairman of Potiskum Local Government, Ado Hamza had threatened to retrieve farm lands and other incentives from staff of the local government if they failed to vote for APC.
However, when asked to show proof of how that affected the voting pattern, Maisarafa was left stammering.
Furthermore, Mr Peter Sabo, Local Government Collation Agent of the PDP in Askira, Yobe State said he signed the result sheets from nine wards out of the 13 wards.
He explained that his refusal to endorse forms EC8Cs from the remaining four wards hinged on reported incidence of over voting and illegal cancellation of votes.
Mr oluwafemi Ogunrinde, an INEC Ad-hoc Technician engaged to monitor the function of card readers, said some officials of the commission had instructed to transmit results to a server.
Ogunrinde, when cross-examined said he had not seen the server before. He was also unable to provide the secret access code to the acclaimed server.