Presidential Poll: Tinubu closes defence in Obi's petition with 1 witness - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Presidential Poll: Tinubu closes defence in Obi's petition with 1 witness

.... tenders LP's membership register in evidence

President Bola Tinubu, on Wednesday, closed his defence to the petition that candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Mr. Peter Obi, filed to nullify his election victory. 

Tinubu, through his team of lawyers led by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, wrapped up his defence to the petition, after he presented one witness that testified before the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting in Abuja. 

The witness, Senator Micheal Opeyemi Bamidele, in his evidence, maintained that votes President Tinubu got in Kano State at the end of the presidential election, was not properly recorded, insisting that there was a shortfall of about 10, 929 votes.

Senator Bamidele told the court that many international bodies that sent observers to the country, including the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, filed a report after the election. 

He told the court that the ECOWAS report on the presidential election dated February 27, was signed by a former President of Republic of Sierra Leone, Mr. Ernest Koroma.

Despite objection by Obi's lead counsel, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, the Justice Haruna Tsammani-led five-member panel admitted the ECOWAS report in evidence and marked it as Exhibit RA-27. 

Obi's lawyer said his team would adduce reasons why they opposed the admissibility of the report, in their final written address. 

Continuing his testimony, the witness, confirmed a letter the LP wrote to INEC on April 25, 2022, wherein it forwarded its membership Register as well as its list of members in Anambra State, to the Commission. 

Both documents from the LP to INEC, were admitted in evidence by the panel and marked as Exhibits RA-17 and RA-18.

While being cross-examined by counsel for the All Progressives Congress, APC, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, the witness, who said he was the former Chairman of Senate Committee on Judiciary and currently the Majority Leader of the Senate, told the court that the list of membership the LP forwarded to INEC prior to the presidential election, did not contain Obi's name. 

He equally told the court that as an Attorney that practiced in USA since 1999, there could not be a criminal conviction against Tinubu, when no charge was filed against him.

The witness equally tendered original documents containing evidence of his membership of the New York Bar in the USA. 

"As a long standing associate of President Tinubu for over 25 years now, I know that he is a Nigerian citizen by birth," the witness added. 

In a counter move, counsel to the Petitioners, Dr. Uzoukwu, SAN, through the witness, tendered the final report of the European Union Election Observation Mission to Nigeria, which impugned the conduct and outcome of the 2023 general elections. 

Notwithstanding objections from all the Respondents, the court admitted a certified copy of the EU report and marked it as Exhibit S-2.

The witness, was asked to read a portion of the ECOWAS report which he tendered in evidence, where it stated that there was wanton destruction of properties and killings in the build up to the elections, including the murder of a LP's Senatorial candidate in Enugu state.

After he read the portion, the witness, said: "My lords, I do not agree with this aspect. I only accept the conclusion. The killings that were experienced in the South East was due to the IPOB situation and not because of the election," he insisted. 

On Tinubu's alleged involvement in drug related crime, the witness, maintained that contrary to the position of the Petitioners, he told the court that what was decided by the US Court was a civil proceeding and not a criminal forfeiture.

Meanwhile, after the witness was discharged from the box, counsel to the APC, Fagbemi, SAN, told the court that the party would not call any witness or tender exhibits in defence of the petition.

Consequently, the panel, which placed reliance on Paragraph 46 of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act, directed the Respondents to within 10 days, file their final brief of argument, while it gave the Petitioners seven days to also file their own. 

It held that upon receipt of the Petitioners' process, the Respondents, should file their reply within five days.

The court said the date for adoption of all the processes, preparatory to its final judgement on the case, would be communicate to all the parties.

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