As Nigerians continue to put their gaze on the judiciary, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, and his party tendered over 18,000 blurred polling unit results of the February 25 presidential election before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) on Thursday in aid of their joint petition challenging the declaration of Bola Tinubu as the winner of the election.
Obi and the Labour Party, in their petition marked CA/PEPC/03/2023, want the court to annul the election that brought Bola Tinubu into power on the ground of gross violation of the Constitution, electoral law, and the guidelines by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of the election.
The petitioners, who listed INEC, Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima, and the All Progressives Congress (APC) as respondents in their petition, called their fourth witness (PW 4), Prof. Eric Ofoegbu, before the court, through whom the documents were tendered.
Led in evidence by counsel to the petitioners, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), the witness told the court that he is a professor of mathematics at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, in Anambra.
The documents they tendered through the witness are reports of data analysis of the February 25 presidential election, results, and I-ReV scores’ investigation in Rivers and Benue, respectively, and a report of his findings.
The respondent’s counsel, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) for INEC, Chief Wole Olanipakun (SAN) for Tinubu and Shettima, and Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) for the APC, objected to the admissibility of the statement of the witness.
INEC, through its counsel, told the court that they had just been served with the statement of the witness and would need time to go through it.
“To be honest, I and my team are handicapped and do not know how to proceed. It is an ambush,” he told the court, adding that if the petitioners would wish to continue, they should ask for a step down to allow the respondents to study the statement properly.
Olanipakun aligned himself with Mahmoud’s submission, saying, “We don’t mind taking the witness, but, in the alternative, he can be taken in evidence in chief today and cross-examined later”.
Fagbemi also told the court that they were also served with the statement Thursday morning, which aligned with the submission of Olanipakun.
The petitioners’ counsel apologised for serving the respondents late but told the court that they obtained the subpoena on Wednesday and requested that the witness be allowed to adopt his evidence in chief while the court determines whether or not cross-examination will be done later.
All the respondents objected to the adoption of the statement of the witness and the documents sought to be tendered and reserved their responses until their final written addresses.
They also objected to both the subpoena and the engagement letter and reserved their responses for the final address stage.
Fagbemi, for the APC, objected to the subpoena and not to the letter.
However, the court admitted all the documents tendered in evidence, marked them as exhibits, and reserved its ruling until the day of judgement in the petition.
The petitioners’ 5th witness (PW 5), Lummie Edevbie, from Arise News Television, was called and was led in evidence by the petitioners’ counsel.
The petitioners tendered in evidence through the witness a flash drive containing the video of the speech by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, at the Chatham House, where he spoke about the elections, giving assurances on the potency of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machine and the IReV portals ahead of the general elections.
The respondents all objected to the adoption of the statement of the witness and the viewing of the video in open court.
However, the court approved of playing the video.
In the meantime, the court’s five-member panel of justices, presided over by Justice Haruna Tsammani, adjourned until tomorrow, Friday, June 16, for the witness’s cross-examination and additional petition hearings.