- Buhari plays video countering electronic voting in presidential election
Alex Enumah in Abuja
Two witnesses of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, on Tuesday maintained that the birth place of Atiku in 1946 was part and parcel of Northern Nigeria and not Cameroon as claimed by respondents in the petition.
Also on Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari presented a video clip wherein the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) Chairman, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, was shown speaking on the challenges hindering the adoption of electronic voting for the 2019 general election.
Meanwhile, in an aside with journalists, one of the counsel to Atiku and PDP, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) said there is no cause for alarm as the period for the petitioners to call in witnesses draw to a close this week.
The petitioners in line with agreement reached with parties was allotted 10 days to call their 400 witnesses. So far, only 49 witnesses have been called in the last eight days with just two days to go.
Ozekhome said the peritioners would do all necessary thing to prove their petition at the tribunal at the end of the day.
The video recording, which was from a programme aired on Channels television of February 6, 2019, showed Yakubu identifying telecommunication and security challenges as major constraints in the area of transmitting election results electronically.
At the end of cross examination of the witness, the video clip was then admitted in evidence by the tribunal as exhibits.
Although the peritioners raised objections to the admissibility of the CD, their reasons were however defferred till the final address stage.
The third respondent in the petition, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in reply to Atiku and PDP’s petition, submitted that as at the time Atiku was born in Jada, the province was part of Cameroon and not Nigeria, hence Atiku was not qualified in the first instance to have contested the February 23 presidential election.
But two of Atiku’s witnesses, Ambassador Mabien Zamaki and Mohammed Hayatu, in their separate testimonies, told the tribunal that Jada belonged to part of Northern Nigeria when Atiku was born in 1946.
Ambassador Zamaki in his evidence said that he was aware with detailed record that Atiku was born on November 25, 1946, at Jada in the northern part of Nigeria.
He however admitted not been present when Aisha Hindatu, mother of Atiku, gave birth to Atiku.
Led in evidence by Atiku’s lead counsel, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), the retired career diplomat informed the tribunal that Atiku’s record in his former secondary school was not confidential and can be accessed by anybody doubting the nationality of the PDP presidential candidate.
Under cross examination, he admitted that he saw the record from the custodian of the record in their secondary school and that the record is still there for anybody to cross check.
Zamaki further told the tribunal that he has fair knowledge of history of Nigeria as it relates to Jada in Adamawa and insisted that in 1946 when Atiku was born, Jada was part and parcel of Northern Nigeria and not part of Cameroon as suggested by the APC’s counsel.
“To the best of my knowledge Jada was a part of Northern Nigeria even before 1946,” he said.
Another witness, Mohammed Hayatu, a retired Customs Officer, corroborated the Nigerian nationality of the former vice-president.
Hayatu, in his evidence, told the tribunal that he came in contact with Atiku’s record in the Nigerian Customs Service where Atiku retired as a senior Customs Officer.
Under cross examination, Hayatu said that Adamawa was part of Northern Nigeria and that Jada fell on the part of Northern Nigeria and not Cameroon.
He admitted that part of Adamawa State used to be part of Cameroon, but maintained that Jada was never part of the area of Adamawa that used to be in Cameroon.
Other witnesses from both Adamawa and Nasarawa States called to give evidence attested to incidents of intimidation, harrasment, over voting and allocation of votes to parties by ad hoc staff of the INEC.
Likita Aliyu, in his own testimony, claimed that one INEC official, Abubakar Kaura, was found with the sum of $10,000 on the day of election.
Aliyu, who said he was a Ward Collation Officer, alleged that the $10,000 was a bribe for the INEC officer to manipulate the outcome of the election results in the area of Nasarawa State.
The witness said he got to know of the alleged bribe following a tip-off upon which he personally went to investigate and found the alleged $10,00 in the custody of the INEC officer.
Under cross examination, Aliyu said he reported the matter to the police and that the matter was later transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Bureau for further investigation.
The witness also asserted that out of the 24 units in the ward, he was only able to receive results of 23 units excluding the unit where the allegation was allegedly perpetrated.
He however said he signed the form EC8C voluntarily because his party won in the ward.
Also testifying, Sunday John said armed men later identified as APC agents struck at a polling unit in Karu Local Government and scattered the election materials and damaged the smart card reader deployed for the election.
He said as a result of the violent attack, the election could not hold at the polling unit.
Another witness Harry Gunde also in Karu Local Government of Nasarawa State alleged falsification and alteration of election results at the council, which according to him, was carried out at the collation centre and that it was reported to security personnel but no action was taken.
At the end of the cross examination of the 49th petitioner’s witness, the tribunal adjourned to Wednesday, July 17 for continuation of hearing.