• Adjourns Hearing On APM’s Petition Again
• INEC Gives Reasons For Opposing Admission Of Own Documents As Exhibits
The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) yesterday admitted exhibits from the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, in additional six states in his quest to establish rigging and other electoral malpractices that led to his loss in the February 25 presidential election.
This was as the court has again adjourned the petition of the Allied Peoples’ Movement (APM) challenging the victory of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to enable parties reference a Supreme Court judgment on double nomination.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has shed light on why it kicked against the tendering of its own documents as exhibits by Obi to establish his petition against Tinubu’s election.
Obi and the LP had last Thursday tendered exhibits in six states comprising Rivers, Benue, Cross River, Niger, Osun and Ekiti states.
However, at yesterday’s proceedings, the presidential candidate and his party tendered exhibits in six other states including Adamawa, Bayelsa, Oyo, Edo, Lagos and Akwa Ibom.
The exhibits comprising forms EC8A used in the February 25 presidential election and certified by INEC as true copies of the original were admitted as exhibits.
A breakdown of the fresh exhibits showed that forms EC8A were admitted in 21 local councils of Adamawa, eight local councils of Bayelsa, 31 local councils of Oyo, 18 local councils of Edo, 20 local councils of Lagos and 31 local councils of Akwa Ibom.
The winner of the election, Tinubu, and the All Progressives Congress (APC) as well as INEC that conducted the election hinted the court of their intentions to object to the documents at the final stage of address.
At the close of yesterday’s proceedings, Obi through his counsel, Mr. Peter Afoba (SAN), informed the court that they have exhausted documents at their disposal for the day.
Afoba applied to the court to consider the admitted documents as read but all respondents in the matter opposed the request.
Further hearing in the petition has been shifted to Monday, June 5, by the Presiding Justice of the Court, Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani.
On the petition by the APM, counsel for the petitioner, Yakubu Maikasuwa (SAN), informed the court that though the last adjournment was to enable parties obtain a copy of the Supreme Court judgment delivered on similar matter, the parties were yet to access the judgment.
The lawyer therefore prayed the court for an adjournment to Friday, June 9, to enable parties access the judgment and take appropriate decision.
Kemi Pinhero, Lateef Fagbemi and Akin Olujimi, counsel to the 1st to 5th respondents in the petition, all Senior Advocates, did not oppose the application.
Meanwhile, INEC yesterday explained why it had on Thursday vehemently objected to the admission of several documents brought to the PEPC by Obi and LP for the purpose of tendering them as exhibits to justify their petition.
INEC’s lawyer, Pinhero, told the court that the electoral body kicked against tendering of certified true copies of the documents, mainly election result sheets, because Obi and the LP did not challenge conduct of election in the areas relating to the documents.
Pinhero explained that issues were not joined in the local councils where the result sheets were sought to be tendered, adding that it was wrong of the petitioners to go beyond the areas where the election is disputed.
He accused Obi of trying to confuse issues by bringing result sheets where he did not dispute the election and the returns, adding that the presidential candidate ought to have guided himself with the pleadings in his petition.
According to INEC, the local councils unlawfully smuggled into proceedings of the court were totally strange to the petition and cannot stand in the face of the law.
INEC’s explanation, which was offered while lawyers were ordered to make appearance, however drew the anger of Justice Tsammani, who held that it was wrong of the learned counsel to have smuggled the explanation into the proceedings because all parties in the petition had agreed to offer such explanations at the address stage of proceedings.
Pinhero in return apologised to the court but said that he was forced to speak up on the objections because of the deluge of criticisms suffered in the media by his client.
The senior lawyer hinted that the social media had turned his client to an object of ridicule without finding out reasons for objections against the admissibility of the documents.