Atiku Summons INEC Chairman, Secretary To Testify In Tribunal

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who alleged that the 2023 general election was rigged, on Tuesday, applied to summon the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, to appear before the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting in Abuja.

The lead counsel to Atiku, Chris Uche, who addressed the tribunal in Abuja on Tuesday, said he had also summoned the Secretary to the commission, Mrs Rose Omoa Oriaran-Anthony.

Atiku is challenging INEC’s declaration of President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the February 25 presidential election.

The petition resumed hearing with the lead counsel to Atiku informing the court that he was calling the first witness of the day, making him that the 19th witness to testify in the matter.

The 19th witness is a star witness, was one Mr Alex Adumter, a lawyer and politician as well as the National Coordinator of the PDP Situation Room.

The PDP candidate and former Vice President, said he would formally obtain subpoenas to compel the trio to appear before the court to give evidence and to also tender sensitive electoral documents.

“My lords, for the benefit of the Respondents, so that they will not say that we took them by surprise, we want to state that it has gotten to the stage where we will summon the National Chairman of INEC, the Secretary of the Commission as well as the National Commissioner, to appear in court with documents.

“We had earlier indicated our intention to bring them as subpoenaed witnesses and we have gotten to that stage that they may be required to appear in this matter.

READ MORE: Tribunal: We Were Not Bribed To Rig Election – INEC Officials

“We have already indicated that we want them here, but by Thursday, we will make the formal application,” Atiku’s lead counsel, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, told the court.

Atiku and the PDP, who are the petitioners, made their decision to summon the INEC bosses known, after they produced two more witnesses that testified before the court.

It will be recalled that despite objections from President Bola Tinubu and the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, the Justice Haruna Tsammani-led five-member panel, okayed five ad-hoc staff members of INEC, who participated in the conduct of the presidential election, to testify as witnesses in the case.

In their separate testimonies before the court, the five INEC ad-hoc staff members, admitted that results of the presidential election were not electronically transmitted.

The witnesses told the court that while results of the National Assembly elections were successfully transmitted through the use of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, devices, however, the process failed when they tried to upload results of the presidential poll which held on the same day.

According to them, the BVAS malfunction, made it impossible for the presidential election results to be transmitted to INEC’s I-Rev portal, in real time.

Meanwhile, at the resumed proceedings on Tuesday, INEC, told the court that it had on May 20, raised an objection to additional witness statements that Atiku and PDP filed in support of their petition

INEC’s lawyer, Mr. Abubakar Mahmood, SAN, insisted that the additional statements raised fresh issues that were not contained in the original petition before the court.

“We objected to the additional statements on the ground that they were no covered by the petition but contained new facts.

“Your lordships reserved ruling on that issue and our position is that the evidence of this witness related to those pleadings.

“Therefore, we will have to object to the depositions of this witness that is sought to be adopted now by the witness.

“We oppose the further witness statement dated April 20. We reserve our reasons for the objection till our final address stage,” INEC’s lawyer, Mahmood, SAN, added.

Whereas counsel for the Petitioners, Chief Uche, SAN, urged the court to discountenance INEC’s objection, however, lawyers that appeared for President Tinubu and the APC, Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN, and Mr. Afolabi Fashanu, SAN, respectively, aligned themselves with the position of the electoral body.

President Tinubu, through his lawyer, Chief Olujinmi, SAN, told the court that he equally canvassed similar argument against replies and additional statements that were filed by the Petitioners.

While the Justice Tsammani-led panel reserved ruling on the issue, it however adopted in evidence, INEC’s Manual for Election Officials as well as Guidelines for conduct of the 2023 general elections, which were tendered by the Petitioners.

The court marked the two documents as Exhibits PAE-1 and PAE-2.

Afterwards, President Tinubu and the APC said they were vehemently opposed to three video recordings, which Atiku and the PDP applied for the court to admit in evidence.

Atiku’s lead counsel, Chief Uche, SAN, told the court that the three video recordings were that of INEC’s Chairman, Prof. Yakubu, that of INEC’s National Commissioner, Mr. Okoye, as well as that the European Union Election Observer Mission to Nigeria.

The panel subsequently adjourned further hearing on the petition till Wednesday.

Atiku, is among other reliefs, praying the court to declare that he was the valid winner of the presidential election, even as he applied for the withdrawal of the Certificate of Return that was issued to President Tinubu by INEC.