The first set of witnesses in the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the February 23 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday appeared before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT).
Three out of the six witnesses that appeared before the panel, claimed to have been engaged during the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as ad hoc staff.
The three – Peter Obi (not Atiku’s running mate), Adejuyitan Olalekan and Adedokun Adeoye – claimed they transmitted results to INEC server at the conclusion of the last presidential election, as claimed by the petitioners.
The petitioners’ other three witnesses – Buba Galadima, Mohammed Tata and Mustapha Bello – claimed the election was marred in their polling units by violence, harassment and intimidation.
Atiku and the PDP also tendered documents, including copies of result sheets from some states; Form CF001, containing personal information of President Muhammadu Buhari and a bundle of documents, which the petitioners claimed were obtained from the National Archive in Kaduna.
Led in evidence by Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), Galadima, an ardent critic of Buhari, who was the first to testify, adopted his written statement, in which he queried Buhari’s educational qualification and proceeded to explain his relationship with the President and why he fell out with him.
Under cross-examination by Buhari’s lawyer, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Galadima said he supported Buhari’s ambition in 2003, 2007 2011 and 2015 because he was convinced that he (Buhari) was qualified to lead the country.
“On the four occasions that I supported him, I was convinced he was qualified to be president of the country. I know he was military head of state between 1983 and 1985,” he said.
Galadima said he did not fall out with Buhari because he was not made a minister, but owing to the President’s failure to abide by their promises to provide quality and fair leadership.
He said his daughter – Zainab Buba Galadinma – is not a Special Assistant to the President but a board member of the Film Corporation in Jos, arguing that she is one of the most qualified Nigerians in government and that she deserved the appointment having contributed immensely to Burahi’s electoral victory.
The witness confirmed that Buhari was a military Head of State between 1983 and 1985 and that he addressed Nigeria in many languages, including English.
Under cross-examination by lawyer to the APC, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), Galadima said although he was still a member of the APC, he worked with the PDP in the last presidential election because Buhari betrayed their promises to Nigerians.
According to him, he travelled outside the country when INEC displayed the names of candidates before the last presidential election for members of the public to scrutinise their qualifications and complain where necessary.
Under cross-examination by lawyer to INEC, Yunus Usman (SAN), Galadima said he was at his party’s situation room after casting his ballot to get reports from agents.
Obi, as a Registration Area Technician (RATECH)/E Collation Officers, appointed and trained by INEC, said he was in charge of supervising election in a ward and that his superiors were the Local Government Technician (LG TECH) and the State Technician (State TECH).
Under cross-examination by Fagbemi, Obi said he could not remember the polling units where he worked during the election and did not use smart card reader on the day of election.
Olalekan, who said he acted as INEC Presiding Officer during the election, told the tribunal that he is a lecturer at the African Thinkers Community of Inquiry College of Education (ATCOI COE).
The witness said he transmitted results to the INEC server, using a code provided by INEC.
“The server is connected to the smart card reader. I don’t not know the name and number of the server. The INEC server’s name is attached to the INEC server,” he said.
Olalekan said the election went well in his polling unit and that no incident of card reader malfunction was recorded.
Adeoye, who claimed to have served as an Assistant Presiding Officer during the election and that he transmitted results to INEC server, could not recall the scores recorded by political parties in his polling unit.
The witness, who claimed to have transmitted results to INEC server, using card reader, said he did not provide particulars of the card reader, server code and the location of the said server in his written statement.
He also said he could not recall them.
Tata, who said he served as Party Agent to the PDP in Jigawa State during the election, claimed to have been compelled to sign the result sheet with a threat to remove his name from the N-Power Programme.
He said the election did not hold in his polling unit because of violence.
Bello, who said he functioned as a Polling Agent and Collation Agent for the PDP, said the APC won his polling unit with 511 votes to PDP’s 175.
He said although over 70 parties contested the election, only four recorded votes, including the APC and PDP. He could not recall the names of the other two parties.
Bello said he did not sign the election results sheet in his polling unit because the figures on the sheet were not legible.
The National Chairman the APC Adams Oshiomhole witnessed yesterday’s proceedings at the tribunal. He was with chieftains of his party and those of the opposition PDP. He sat all through the proceedings.
Oshiomhole, who was attending the tribunal’s sitting for the first time, arrived at the court a little over 9am. He was accompanied by former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman of the Nuhu Ribadu.
At the tribunal were former Senate President Adolphus Wabara, former Chairman of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC), Tom Ikimi; businessman, Raymond Dokpesi and PDP spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan.
Oshiomhole, who near Ikimi, said he was representing his party and President Muhammadu Buhari, who are listed as the second and third respondents in the petition by the PDP and Atiku.
Hearing continues before the tribunal today.