The Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), President Bola Tinubu, and the All Progressives Congress, (APC) on Wednesday in Abuja, opposed the appearance of subpoenaed witnesses of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) to testify.
The respondents appeared unsettled when the petitioners called the first subpoenaed witness saying they were not prepared to cross-examine the witness having been served the witness statement only on Wednesday.
The respondents, through their counsel, objected to the taking of the evidence of the witness who was said to be an Ad hoc staff of INEC during the Feb. 25 presidential election.
Counsel to the petitioners, Mr. Chris Uche, SAN, informed the court that the petitioners had three subpoenaed witnesses and went ahead to call the first one.
As soon as the witness entered the witness box, counsel to INEC, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, vehemently opposed to the witness giving his testimony.
According to Mahmoud, I was only served this morning with the statement of the witness and as such, I have to study the statement in order to do a thorough cross-examination.
He insisted that the witness could not be taken since he was said to be an Adhoc staff of the Commission and as such he would have to go and look at INEC records to enable him to confirm the status of the witness and prepare adequately.
Counsel for Tinubu, Akin Olujimi, SAN, and that of the APC, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, also said they were served with the witness statement on Thursday and needed time to peruse it for proper cross-examination.
Attempts by Uche to insist that the witness be taken saying ordinarily, subpoenaed witness statements didn’t have to be front-loaded were futile as the respondents insisted that they had to peruse the statements.
Uche pleaded with the court to take at least one of the subpoenaed witnesses saying there was nothing strange in the statement to warrant an adjournment.
Following the respondent’s insistence, Uche urged the court to adjourn until Thursday for the three subpoenaed witnesses to give their testimony.
Earlier, the petitioners called their 11th witness, Mr. Ndubisi Nwobu, the PDP Collation Agent for Anambra.
Nwobu, in his evidence-in-chief, told the court that he was forced to sign Form EC8D because it became evident that if he did not sign, INEC would not give him a copy.
Form EC8D is the result sheet for states.
Under cross-examination by Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, the witness told the court that although the election was peaceful at his polling unit, INEC officials refused to upload the results to INEC Result Verification Portal, (IREV).
” The election went well in my polling unit and the result was entered but we insisted that the result be uploaded on IREV, all efforts proved abortive.
“There was no problem at the polling units, it was at the ward level that magic started happening, “the witness said.
He also told the court that he visited about 30 out of the 4,720 polling units in Anambra.
Also while being cross-examined by Mr Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, counsel to the APC, the witness told the court that his major grouse with the election was that there was no real-time upload of results on IREV as was promised by the INEC chairman.
The witness also told Mr Akin Olujimi, SAN, counsel to President Bola Tinubu that Labour Party won the election in Anambra.
When the petitioner attempted to call witnesses subpoenaed from INEC, all the respondents objected on the grounds that they had just been served with the witness statements and they needed to peruse them.
The Chairman of the Court, Justice Haruna Tsammani thereafter adjourned proceedings until Thursday to allow the respondents study the witness statements of the subpoenaed witnesses for seamless cross-examination.
The respondents in the petition marked: CA/PEPC/05/2023, are; INEC, President Tinubu, and the APC.
Atiku and the PDP are before the court to challenge the outcome of the Feb. 25 presidential election on the grounds that it was invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.
The petitioners claim that President Tinubu was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast during the election.