Atiku’s Election Petition: Tribunal Orders INEC Chairman to Appear Thursday


Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal has ordered the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to appear before it today by noon.

It gave the order Wednesday following an earlier subpoena issued and served on Yakubu and the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Zamfara State.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate in the last general election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who are the petitioners, had filed two applications on July 9, seeking an order of the court to compel Yakubu to personally appear before the tribunal and present certain documents listed by the petitioners.

They also wanted the appearance of the Zamfara REC to produce the election results for the state in the presidential poll.
While that of the chairman was served on him on July 15, that of the Zamfara REC was served on him on July 12.

Counsel to the petitioners, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), on resumption of proceedings wednesday, had expressed concern that the commission was yet to respond to the tribunal’s subpoena served on the chairman and the Zamfara REC.

Responding, counsel to INEC, Yunus Usman (SAN), told the tribunal that he was not aware of the subpoena on Yakubu but that of the Zamfara REC has been complied with.

He added that they were waiting for the petitioners to pay the normal fee and collect the documents.

But in a short ruling, the presiding justice of the five-man panel, Justice Mohammed Garba, held that orders of court are sacrosanct and must be obeyed.

“Since the record of the court shows that the chairman of the first respondents, INEC, and Zamfara REC were duly served to produce documents named therein, the chairman and the Zamfara REC as the legal team representing them in this matter are to comply with the order”, the tribunal held.

According to the chairman, the records of the court show that Yakubu was served on July 15 and the Zamfara REC on July 12, but both of them are yet to respond to the subpoena.

“They have not done so and there is no document to show. We note that the INEC chairman and REC were asked to produce documents on the day they were served, that is impossible. They have been directed to produce documents in the subpoena by 12 noon tomorrow,” he said.

Meanwhile, one of the witnesses called by Atiku in his petition, Arume Yahaya, yesterday wept uncontrollably while recounting the incidents that occurred in his ward during the presidential poll.

Yahaya burst into tears as he recalled sporadic gunshots that marred the election and that also led to the death of a Kogi indigene.

The witness under cross-examination by Buhari’s counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), told the tribunal that political thugs invaded his polling unit and fired gunshots sporadically to scare away voters in the area.
He said the development led to voters deserting the area and running into different directions for safety, adding that at the end of the day votes were allocated to the APC.

Yahaya who was the 57th witness for the petitioners became emotional when asked who won the election in his ward. But in his response, Yahaya told the tribunal that there was no election in his ward; so no one could have won the election.
Another witness, Adamu Samuel Sule, also from Kogi State, alleged that INEC officials did not give PDP agents election results on the instruction of some unnamed APC stalwarts.

Other witnesses who testified alleged that ballot papers were thumb printed in Borno State and counted as lawful votes for Buhari and the APC.
The witnesses said at the end of the thumb printing allegedly done by the APC agents and aided by security agents, zero-vote was allocated to the two petitioners at Chibok Local Government Area of the state.

The witnesses who came from Borno and Nasarawa states also testified that elections in Nasarawa, especially in Karu Local Government Area where PDP polled 22,580 and APC 9,407 but the results were cancelled on the grounds that the petitioners won in the poll.

They further told the tribunal that result sheets were exchanged and in some cases allegedly re-written to favour Buhari and APC.

Under cross-examination by Buhari’s lawyer, Olanipekun, the witnesses informed the tribunal that they did not come to Abuja with their own copies of the results having submitted them to their party in the state, which in turn submitted them to the petitioners’ lawyers.
The witnesses include, Iorshe David, Dangana Shau Barde, Aliu Abdullahi, Sanni Abdul and Dr. Allen Manasseh.
Following request by the petitioners’ lead counsel hearing in the petition was adjourned till Friday.