Tribunal: Peter Obi presents total PVCs from 32 states, 3 more witnesses

The entire number of Permanent Voters Cards, or PVCs, that were gathered in 32 states of the federation before to the 2023 general elections were listed in a bundle of exhibits that were allowed in evidence by the Presidential Petition Court, or PEPC, which is seated in Abuja, on Wednesday.

The five-member panel, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, also accepted as evidence a collection of papers that listed each state’s total number of registered voters.

The Labour Party, LP candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, presented the materials to the court, claiming that President Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, was the beneficiary of voter fraud in the February 25 presidential election.

Obi’s legal team was headed by Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, but Mr. Peter Afuba, SAN, another senior member of the team, submitted the exhibits on his behalf.

The petitioners informed the court that the Independent National Electoral Commission, or INEC, had properly certified the exhibits.

The electoral body, however, asserted that it was adamantly opposed to the admissibility of the exhibits in evidence through the representation of its attorney, Mr. Kemi Pinhero, SAN.

The admission of the exhibits as evidence was also contested by President Tinubu and the APC, the second and third respondents in the case.

In their last written address, all of the respondents promised to provide the justifications for their reservations.

Despite the concerns, the court accepted the documents designated as exhibits PCN 1 PCN 32 into evidence. These documents detailed the total number of PVCs from the 32 states.

A certified true copy of a certificate of compliance on exhibits that the petitioners had previously submitted in regard to the state of Edo was also accepted into evidence by the court.

The court also admitted certified copies of extra IReV reports for three Local Government Areas, or LGAs, in Benue state, two in Cross River state, twelve in Lagos state, and one in Gombe state as evidence after they were tendered by the petitioners.

Three additional witnesses were called by the petitioners earlier in the proceedings to testify in court.

As the eighth witness in the case, Dr. Chibuike Ugwoke informed the court that he is an expert in cyber security.

The witness presented a paper containing a press release the INEC released prior to the general elections, claiming he had been summoned to come before the court to provide evidence.

The witness, Mr. Patrick Ikweto, SAN, was introduced into evidence by a member of Obi’s legal team. He informed the court that the press release, dated November 11, 2022, and signed by INEC’s National Commissioner, Mr. Festus Okoye, was titled “Alleged plot to abandon transmission of polling unit results to IReV portal.”

Ikweto, SAN, informed the court that the witness had alluded to sources/materials that were published or used by INEC from 2018 to 2023, with their precise Uniform Resource Identifiers, or URIs, attached, in paragraph 26 of his statement under oath.

The PW-8, who was referred to as an expert witness, he claimed, also submitted a report on what he called “meta data.”

All of the respondents said that they disagreed with the witness’ testimony and promised to explain why at a later point in the litigation.

In addition, the court was informed by the attorneys for all of the respondents that they received the witness’s statement, which was roughly eight pages long, just before the hearings on Wednesday started.

They thus asked the court to postpone his cross-examination until Thursday so they could examine his oath, which the panel had accepted as evidence.

The petitioners called Mr. Onoja Sunday, their ninth witness, after the court gave the witness permission to leave the box and return on Thursday.

Sunday, who was introduced as a witness by Mr. Ikechukwu Ezechukwu, SAN, another attorney on Obi’s legal team, informed the court that he works for the non-profit organization Women & Child Rescue Initiative.

He offered his sworn declaration as well as his official ID card, both of which were accepted as proof.

The witness informed the court during his cross-examination by INEC’s attorney, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, that based on his observations, voting and counting went smoothly on the day the presidential election was held.

The witness responded, “I do not work for any party, nor do I have any candidates,” when asked if his party had won the election in the voting place where he had been.

The witness responded to additional inquiries from INEC’s attorney by saying: “I did not work with BVAS in the polling unit and from my observation, the officials went away to the Ward collation center with the Form EC8A (polling unit result) that was signed by both the INEC officials and party agents.”

The witness, Mr. Emmanuel Ukala, SAN, acknowledged under cross-examination by a member of President Tinubu’s legal team that the subpoena that brought him before the court was not addressed to his organization but rather to him personally, citing his village address.

He testified before the court that INEC staff did not post the results to the IReV portal as required by law after the votes from the polling units were tabulated.

The APC, for its part, stated that it had no questions for the witness through its principal attorney, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN.

The 10th witness, Mr. Kefas Iya, who identified himself as a government worker, stated in his own testimony that he had received a subpoena to appear and provide testimony before the court.

The witness informed the court that he worked as an ad hoc staff member of INEC after a copy of the subpoena was tendered without opposition from any of the Respondents.

He testified before the court that he and another individual named Suleiman Mustapha oversaw roughly 24 units in his Ward at Madagali LGA in Adamawa state.

The witness described his experience serving as INEC’s Supervisory Presiding Officer, saying: “Aside from a fight that broke out between APC and PDP operatives, there was only one problem: the failure to transmit the election results.

“I did a good job, and the election results were announced correctly and the election results were properly imputed in forms EC8As,”

He said, “It was not my responsibility as a supervisor to handle the BVAS machines.

The witness asserted during cross-examination by President Tinubu’s attorney that he was not present in court to testify on behalf of the INEC.

When asked if the Labour Party had convinced him to appear in court as one of its supporters, the witness responded, “My lords, I am not partisan. I was only employed by INEC temporarily for the election.

The PW-10 acknowledged that the PDP won the presidential election in the state of Adamawa while also stating that the BVAS performed admirably in every unit he visited while serving as a supervisor.

Furthermore, the witness said in court that, despite problems with the uploading of results, Ward-level collation took place.

When asked if it would surprise him to learn that his Ward’s presidential election results had been uploaded to INEC’s IReV portal, the witness responded, “Based on my knowledge as a supervisor, we did that of the National Assembly, but when we tried to upload the presidential election result, it did not go.

“All the poll workers were at their various units, but I was able to move around as a supervisory officer,” one voter said.

The judge postponed additional proceedings until Thursday.

The PDP nominee Alhaji Atiku Abubakar filed a petition to also contest the results of the presidential election, but the hearing on that plea was halted on Wednesday.

After the petitioners’ attorney, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, called the court’s attention to the fact that significant time had been spent on procedures in another petition by the Allied Peoples Movement, APM, the panel postponed hearing on the subject till Thursday.

According to the timeline that the panel had earlier imposed, Uche, SAN, emphasized that his clients would have only 30 minutes to make their case when the court reconvened at 12:30 p.m.

The parties reached an agreement, and the judge postponed the case until Thursday.

On Friday, Obi and Atiku are anticipated to conclude their arguments, following which the Respondents will launch their defense.

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