Court okays Tinubu's request to defend his election on Tuesday - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Monday, July 3, 2023

Court okays Tinubu's request to defend his election on Tuesday

The Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting in Abuja, has okayed request by President Bola Tinubu to open his defence to petitions seeking to nullify his election, on Tuesday. 

President Tinubu, through his team of lawyers led by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, applied to commence the process of defending his election victory, immediately the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, closed its own defence on Monday.

INEC produced a lone witness that testified in the petition the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, filed to challenge the outcome of the 2023 presidential election.

The electoral body equally tendered four documentary exhibits in evidence, among which included a letter dated July 6, 2022, which the Vice President, Kashim Shettima, wrote to notify it of his decision to withdraw as candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the Borno Central Senatorial election.
Led in evidence by INEC's lead counsel, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, the witness, Mr. Lawrence Bayode, who is a Deputy Director of ICT at the Commission, tendered the letter and its accompanying certification, which was admitted in evidence and marked as Exhibits RA-1 and RA-2.

While being cross-examined by Tinubu's lawyer, Chief Olanipekun, SAN, the witness, insisted that the presidential election that held on February 25, was "free, fair, credible and conducted in substantial compliance with the Electoral Act."

Answering questions from APC's counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, the witness told the court that the technical glitch that was experienced on the election day, did not affect the actual scores of all the presidential candidates, which he said remained intact.

He further told the court that results of the presidential election was not electronically collated, saying it was done manually.

"INEC does not have electronic collation system," he insisted, adding that INEC had few days to the presidential poll, announced that electronic transmission of results of the election would not be feasible. 

However, while being cross-examined by counsel to the Petitioners, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, the witness, told the court that the European Union, EU, Observation Mission was accredited by INEC to monitor the 2023 general elections.

Asked if he was aware that EU has released its final report on the election, the witness, said: "Yes I am aware, but I have not seen it."

When he was shown a certified copy of EU's report and asked to read from a portion of it, the Respondents raised objections. 

Though they opposed the admissibility of the report as part of the proof of evidence in the case, the Justice Haruna Tsammani-led five-member panel of the court admitted it in evidence as Exhibit RA-6.

Following a nod by the panel, the witness, read a paragraph in the report where EU stated that the 2023 was not "a transparent and inclusive election" as promised by the INEC.

He also read a portion in the report that stated that "only 31% of results uploaded in I-REV was formally or mathematically correct."

The witness, however, maintained that technological innovations that INEC introduced into the electoral process was to guarantee transparency and integrity of the results. 

Shortly after he was dismissed from the witness box, INEC's lawyer, told the court that his client would not call any other witness in the matter.

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