In an application filed through his legal team, former Vice President and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who is challenging the outcome of the presidential election that took place on February 25, persuaded the court to summon the INEC boss to, among other exhibits he requested, produce the document containing Tinubu’s bio-data.
In response to a summons served on him, the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, presented a paper containing President Bola Tinubu’s age before the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, which was sitting in Abuja.
President Tinubu submitted Form EC9, an affidavit of personal information, to the INEC in order to support his eligibility to run for office in 2023.
President Tinubu, according to Atiku, “demonstrated inconsistency as to his actual date of birth, secondary schools he attended (Government College Ibadan); his state of origin, gender, and actual name; and certificates evidencing universities attended (Chicago State University),” according to a joint petition he filed with his party.
The stated degree certificate that the second respondent obtained from Chicago State University really belonged to a female (F), who was referred to as “F” on the certificate that bore the name Bola Tinubu, not to the second respondent.
“In addition to his Nigerian citizenship, the second respondent voluntarily acquired the citizenship of the Republic of Guinea with Guinean Passport No. D00001551. However, he did not reveal this to the first respondent (INEC). Notice is hereby issued to the second respondent that he must present the original copies of his two passports.
On May 26, a five-member panel under the direction of Justice Haruna Tsammani issued a subpoena to the INEC chairman demanding that he provide 11 sets of exhibits.
Therefore, even though Prof. Yakubu was not physically present in court when the matter started yesterday, he dispatched a top commission officer to provide four of the required exhibits.
His representative, Mrs. Moronkeji Tairu, informed the court that she works at INEC’s Abuja headquarters as the Deputy Director of the Certification and Complaints, Legal Drafting, and Clearance Department.
Mrs. Tairu specifically informed the court that she had Forms EC8D series, which represented the presidential election results from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja. She climbed into the witness box and spoke to the court during that time.
Form EC8D(A), the INEC’s official declaration of the presidential election results, was the second exhibit she presented to the court.
The representative of Prof. Yakubu also presented certified copies of accreditation data from the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, or BVAS, referring to the 36 states of the federation and the FCT, as well as reports of extracts from the BVAS machines regarding Rivers State.
Finally, the Form EC9 that President Tinubu submitted to INEC was presented by the witness, accepted as Exhibit PAJ 40, and designated as a certified true copy.
Due to the size of some of the sought papers, Mrs. Tairu informed the court that the commission obtained 10 copies from each state and placed the remaining information on flash drives that she also sent to the panel.
Through his legal team, which was under the direction of Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, President Tinubu argued against the admissibility of each and every piece of evidence.
Through its legal team, which was under the direction of Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, the All Progressives Congress, APC, submitted objections to each exhibit that the INEC chairman’s representative presented.
The respondents promised to provide justifications for their objections in their final written presentation.
Through its lead attorney, Mr. Abubakar Mahmood, SAN, INEC responded that while it was not opposed to the admissibility of the documents, which it deemed immaterial to the case at hand, the petitioners had failed to pay the required fees.
In response, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, the lead attorney for the petitioners, informed the court that, in contrast to the assertion made by the attorney for INEC, his clients had paid N6.7 million for the certification of all the documents they had asked from INEC.
Atiku and the PDP won the presidential election, according to a statistician who testified earlier in the hearings as the 21st witness in the case, Mr. Samuel Oduntan.
The witness testified in court that he examined and evaluated the electoral documents used to conduct the election, particularly the Forms EC8A, which represented the results of the voting places in the 26 states that make up the federation.
The statistician responded to inquiries during cross-examination by stating that he performed quality checks before drawing conclusions from the data he gave in the reports he submitted as evidence before the court.
The witness stated during cross-examination by President Tinubu’s attorney, Chief Olanipekun, SAN, that he has previously studied voting documents in other election-related controversies.
However, he acknowledged that his report submitted to the court did not include any visual proof of the election documents he saw at INEC’s headquarters at the request of Atiku and the PDP.
The witness claimed that, as part of his research, he deducted votes attributable to the three main political parties in polling places where there were problems with the election.
He testified in court that the outcomes of Adamawa and Kano states, which went to the PDP and the New Nigeria Peoples Party, respectively, did not satisfy him equally. He also said that in his report, he had also advocated for the subtraction of “irregularities votes” in the states won by the Labour Party.
Prince Fagbemi, SAN, the witness, responded to inquiries from the APC’s attorney by saying, “I have been keeping track of INEC’s actions since 1999. I am aware that the chairman of INEC said that the results of the election would be electronically communicated in real-time before the general elections in 2023.
“I, however, did not hear at any time before the election when he said that the commission could no longer transmit election results electronically due to the issue of security and the cash crunch.”
The witness responded, “As at the time of preparing the report, the BVAS machines had already been reconfigured for another round of elections,” when asked if he took information from the BVAS machines before compiling his report. As a result, I was unable to get information from them.
He continued, “I am aware that the established rule was that the BVAS machines were to be utilised for voter accreditation.
He testified before the court that Atiku won the majority of votes in 12 out of the 26 states he and his team of six members looked at the results from.
Because I was the team leader, I was the only one to sign the report, he said.
The APC called the court’s attention to the contradiction between the witness’s claims that he examined the results in 28 states on one page of his report and that he did so with regard to all 36 of the federation’s states on a different page.
The case’s future hearing was postponed until today by the Justice Tsammani-led panel.