• Atiku’s place of birth never part of Cameroon, witnesses tell tribunal
Alex Enumah in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday presented a video clip wherein Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, was shown speaking on the challenges hindering the adoption of electronic voting for the 2019 general election.
The video clip, which was admitted as exhibit by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Abuja, was to counter the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, that played a video recording on Monday to support their accusation that INEC adopted electronic voting during the February 23 presidential election.
During yesterday’s sitting, two witnesses of Atiku also faulted the submission of Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) that the birthplace of Atiku in 1946 was in Cameroon. They said Jada, in Adamawa State, where Atiku was born in 1946 was part of Northern Nigeria.
The tribunal allowed the APC and Buhari to tender the video clip as evidence that there was no electronic voting during the last general election.
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 transmitting election results electronically.
At the end of cross-examination of the witnesses, the video clip was then admitted in evidence by the tribunal as exhibits.
Although the petitioners raised objections to the admissibility of the video CD, their reasons were deferred till the final address stage.
And in their testimonies at yesterday`s sitting of the tribunal hearing Atiku`s petition challenging the declaration of Buhari as winner of last presidential election, two of Atiku’s witnesses, Ambassador Mabien Zamaki and Mohammed Hayatu, in their separate testimonies, told the tribunal that Jada was part of Northern Nigeria when Atiku was born in 1946.
The APC, which is the third respondent in the petition, while replying to Atiku and PDP’s petition, had submitted that as at the time Atiku was born in Jada, the province was part of Cameroon and not Nigeria. It said Atiku was therefore 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 was part of Northern Nigeria when Atiku was born in 1946.
Zamaki said 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 could 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 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 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 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 was part of Cameroon.
Other witnesses from both Adamawa and Nasarawa states called to give evidence attested to incidents of intimidation, harassment, over voting and allocation of votes to parties by INEC ad-hoc staff.
Likita Aliyu in his own testimony said one INEC official, Abubakar Kaura, was found with $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 he allegedly found the $10,000 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 said out of the 24 units in the ward, he was only able to receive results of 23 units excluding the unit where the alleged bribery took place.
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 attacked a polling unit in Karu Local Government Area; scattered election materials and damaged the smart card reader deployed for the election.
He said as a result of the violence, the election could not hold at the polling unit.
Another witness, Harry Gunde, also from 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 cross-examination of the 49th petitioners witness`, the tribunal adjourned till today for continuation of hearing.
Meanwhile, in an interview with journalists, one of the counsel to Atiku and PDP, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), allayed fear that the petitioners might not be able to call in all their witnesses as the period for the petitioners to call in witnesses draws to a close this week.
The petitioners, in line with agreement reached with parties, were allotted 10 days to call their 400 witnesses. So far they have called only 49 witnesses in the last eight days with just two days to go.
Ozekhome said the petitioners would do whatever was necessary to prove their petition at the tribunal at the end of the day.