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Late Service of Witnesses’ Statements Stalls Hearing in Atiku/PDP’sPetition

Hearing has been truncated again midway in the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar against the outcome of the last presidential election.

Proceedings in the petition resumed smoothly on Wednesday before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), it was however brought to an abrupt end over an hour later owing to the respondents’ objection to the petitioners’ decision to call witnesses whose statements were served late.

Earlier in the day’s proceedings, the petitioners’ lawyer, Chris Uche (SAN) tendered bundles of copies of Forms EC8B from 10 Local Government Areas in Kogi States, which were admitted by the court after the respondents registered their objection and promised to provide reasons later.

Uche told the court that his clients were still expecting the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deliver more documents to them.

He said their constraint was that they got information the previous day that some of the documents were ready, by are outside Abuja, and wondered why they were required to go outside Abuja to access the documents after paying N6.69million to the electoral agency.

Uche then proceeded to call a witness, Honourable Ndubuisi Nwobu, who described himself as the Chairman of the PDP in Anambra State.

Nwobi, who said he acted at the PDP state Collation Agent in Anambra during the last presidential election, claimed that the process was manipulated at the collation centres.

The witness, who was the petitioners’ 11th so far, said although Peter Obi ‘s Labour Party (LP) won the state, he believed the process was not free and fair all over the State.

When asked if he was present at all the 4720 polling units in the state during the election to have witnessed when the process was allegedly manipulated, Nwobi said he only visited about 30 polling units.

He said he got information about the alleged manipulation from his party’s agents at all the polling units where he could not visit.

Nwobi, who said the election held peacefully and in accordance with the law at the polling unit level, said his main grouse was that the when process was that INEC officials did not “upload election results to the INEC Results Viewing Portal (IReV) on time as promised by its chairman before the election.

He claimed that the manipulation of the process took place dying collation, stating that he even had to intervene in some occasions to rescue INEC’s collation officers from being attacked by party agents and irate voters.

Lawyers to the respondents – Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Akin Olujinmi (SAN) for President Bola Tinubu, and Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) for the All Progressives Congress (APC) – however kicked when Uche moved to call some subpoenaed witnesses.

They complained that the witnesses’ written statements, filed by the petitioners, were served on them few minutes before the commencement of the court’s proceedings.

The respondents’ lawyers sought time to familiarise themselves with the statements and seek clarifications from their clients, a position that moved the court to postpone further hearing till the next day.


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