Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Buhari Makes U-turn ,Asks Election Tribunal Not To Admit INEC Form He Filled To Contest 2019 Election As Evidence

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday objected to the admission of his Form CF001, which contained his personal data submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the February 23 presidential election.His objection was announced at the resumed hearing of the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Buhari’s lead counsel, Chief Wale Olanipekun (SAN), while objecting to the admission of the form, said his reasons would be made public at the address stage. Atiku and his party had tendered the form with a view to establishing their petition against Buhari on his qualification for the last presidential election.

Atiku also tendered the final result of the election as signed by the INEC chairman, Prof. Yakubu Mahmood. This was admitted as exhibit. Also tendered and admitted as exhibits were documents containing the total number of voters in INEC’s register and the number of collected permanent voter cards for the election. Atiku’s lead counsel, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, equally tendered six newspapers publications and 10 press statements issued by INEC in respect of the election.

So far, about 6,806 election result sheets from Kano and Zamfara States were tendered and admitted by the tribunal in evidence. Atiku and the PDP thereafter began calling witnesses to testify to allegations of election malpractices, corruption, irregularities and violence in the conduct of the election that produced Buhari as president.

The first witness was Buba Galadima, a spokesperson for the Atiku Campaign Organisation and former ally of Buhari. He stated under cross-examination by Buhari’s counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, that he supported Buhari in the 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 presidential elections but parted ways with him due to his alleged unfulfilled promises. Galadima further told the tribunal that he supported Atiku in the 2019 election because he was a better candidate, who is educated, God-fearing and capable of providing good governance.

The witness however denied parting ways with Buhari because he had been denied privileges. He insisted that Buhari failed to protect the life and property of citizens and did not allow the prevalence of the rule of law. Still under cross-examination by the APC counsel, Lateef Fagbemi, Galadima told the tribunal that he was not a member of the PDP and that his party – Reformed All Progressives Congress (RAPC) – had a Memorandum of Understanding with Atiku and the PDP on how to make life bearable for Nigerians, ensure security and make allowance for the rule of law.

The next petitioner’s witness, Ijeoma Obi, who said he was an Information Communications and Technology (ICT) expert, admitted transmitting results from polling units to the INEC server in his capacity as Registration Area Technician who was trained and shortlisted by INEC for the election.

Another, Adejuyitan Olalekan, also accepted that he transmitted election results to INEC server. He told the tribunal that INEC’s server was automatic and embedded in the Smart Card Reader for the purpose of transmitting results. “I personally transmitted election results to INEC server through the code provided by INEC. There was no instruction from INEC to us to allow election manually in case the card reader refuses to function,” he said.

Under cross-examination by Olanipekun however the witness said he did not know Buhari as second respondent in Atiku’s petition. Still under cross-examination by Fagbemi, he admitted not serving as presiding officer for INEC, saying he was only shortlisted by the electoral body. Adedokun Adeoye, an Assistant Presiding Officer to INEC, was the fourth witness. He equally admitted that he transmitted election results to the server. He however could not answer a question on whether as Assistant Presiding Officer (1), he was authorised to conduct elections and transmit results personally to the server.He stated that INEC guidelines did not show him anything to that effect. He was also unable to give the code number and the server to which the results were transmitted.

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