Labour Party Presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi and his party, Labour Party (LP) on Wednesday, informed the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) that the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, has been evading service of a subpoena on him. The INEC boss is required to testify before the five-member panel of the
Labour Party Presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi and his party, Labour Party (LP) on Wednesday, informed the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) that the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, has been evading service of a subpoena on him.
The INEC boss is required to testify before the five-member panel of the court. Mr. Obi’s counsel reported that Prof. Yakubu was evading service of a subpoena. This is coming barely 24 hours after Atiku’s counsel, Chief Chris Uche, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and lead counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, signalled that they would be bringing the INEC Chairman to testify in court on a subpoena issued by the court. The INEC Chairman is scheduled to testify in Alhaji Abubakar’s case on Thursday.
Mr Obi’s legal team, led by Dr. Livy Uzoukwu SAN, had consistently complained they INEC has deliberately refused them access to critical electoral documents to aid their case. On Wednesday, Dr. Uzoukwu informed the court that the office of the electoral umpire’s chairman declined to accept a subpoena served on Prof. Yakubu to produce some documents before the court.
Dr. Uzoukwu informed the Court that the legal team had exhausted electoral documents it was tendering before the court. While blaming the INEC boss for hindering the progress of their suit Dr. Uzoukwu said his team would have loved to continue with tendering of more documentary evidence but for the refusal of Prof. Yakubu’s office to accept a subpoena served on him to produce some documents.
Reacting to Mr Uzoukwu’s claim, INEC’s counsel, Dr. Kemi Pinheiro SAN asked Mr Obi’s legal team to stop blaming the electoral commission for its tardiness in conducting the case. Dr. Pinheiro said it had become Dr. Uzoukwu’s strategy to blame respondents in the petition for their inability to prosecute their case diligently. “It has become a habit. Whenever they want to seek an adjournment, they look for somebody to whip. It cannot be true that the office of the INEC Chairman refuses a subpoena.
“Don’t use INEC as a whipping boy. If they have nothing else to do today, they should just say so. It is their day. It is not correct that the office of INEC Chairman refused to accept a subpoena,” Dr Pinhero said.
Since the court began substantive hearing of Mr Obi’s and Labour Party’s petitions against President Tinubu’s victory on 30 May, his counsels have largely tendered documentary evidence as exhibits to support their case. These include results sheets and Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) machines reports, amongst others that were used in the conduct of the presidential election.
His counsels during the two weeks pre-hearing session of the court said they would call 50 witnesses to substantiate Obi’s claims of electoral malpractices against INEC , President Tinubu and All Progressives Congress (APC). But Mr Obi has only called two witnesses as the 23 June deadline for prosecuting his case inches close.
Afterwards, the court adjourned further hearing in the suit until Thursday.
Also on Wednesday, the PEPC admitted in evidence three sets of reports prepared by a group of Statisticians on the electoral forms used during the 25 February presidential election. The reports were brought before the court by a renowned Statistician, Samuel Oduntan in aid of the petition by the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar challenging President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as winner of the February 25 presidential poll.
Despite objections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), President Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress (APC )against the testimony of the witness, the Presiding Judge of the Court, Justice Haruna Tsammani admitted the three reports as exhibits.
At Wednesday’s proceedings, former NBA President, Mr. A.B. Mahmoud SAN, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN and Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN conducted the case of INEC, Tinubu and APC respectfully. Besides opposing the admissibility of the documents, counsels to the three respondents also kicked against the bid to consider the reports as being read in the open court.
Justice Tsammani fixed June 15 for further hearing of the petition especially the cross examination of the witness