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Presidential Tribunal: Atiku, PDP close case against INEC, Tinubu 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate in the Feb. 25 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Friday in Abuja, closed their case at the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC).


The petitioners closed their case after calling 27 out of the 100 witnesses they had said they would call to give evidence in support of their joint petition challenging the outcome of the presidential election, reports the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).


The witnesses included expert witnesses such as forensic analysts, star witnesses and subpoenaed witnesses mostly Presiding Officer of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC).


The petitioners’ tendered their last batch of documents through their 27th witness, Mr Mike Enahoro-Eba, a legal practitioner.


The documents which were admitted in evidence included certified true copies of academic and work records of President Bola Tinubu such as a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Certificate, a certificate from the Chicago State University and a Mobil Nigeria Oil Company Plc certificate of service.


Other documents admitted in evidence were a computer generated copy of a Guinean passport bearing the name Bola Ahmed Tinubu and notarised document of the judgment showing criminal forfeiture of $460,000 along with the certified cover note notorising it.


Enahoro-Eba was led in evidence by the petitioners lead counsel, Mr Chris Uche, SAN.


The petitioners also tendered a certificate of compliance and a witness statement on oath to prove the allegations contained in their petition challenging the outcome of the Feb. 25 presidential election.


The witness told the court that the NYSC certificate attached to the president’s documents which he submitted to INEC together with his form EC9, which is his nomination form, was issued in the name Tinubu Bola Adekunle.


He also told the court that the transcript in aid of admission into the Chicago State University made by South West College in the name of Bola Ahmed Tinubu had female as the gender of the applicant.


Counsel to all the respondents; the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), President Bola Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress, (APC), all objected to the admissibility of the documents.


Under cross examination by the lead counsel to INEC, Mr Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, the witness told the court that he was in Abuja during the election and that he voted.


He further said that the election was smooth from when he was accredited up to when he voted and left the polling unit.


The witness also told the court that he instituted a public interest suit against Tinubu at a Magistrate’s Court challenging Tinubu’s qualification to contest the presidential election.


For his part, counsel to President Tinubu, Mr Wole Olanipekun, SAN, confronted the witness with a letter of the Chicago State University of June 27, 2022 stating that President Tinubu not only graduated from the University but graduated with honours.


The witness, however, told the court that he knew nothing about the letter.


Olanipekun also asked the witness if he had gone through the petitioner’s pleadings before coming to give evidence and he said he didn’t bother to read it because he was not part of the legal team of the petitioners.


The senior lawyer therefore told the witness that if he had bothered to read the petition, he would have noticed that the judgment he tendered was not part of the petitioners’ case.


For his part, counsel to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, asked the witness if there was any certificate given by a police officer with regards to the judgment he tendered, the witness said there was none.


The witness also confirmed to the court that there was no finger print or signature on the judgment and that the documents were not certified.


The witness, in answering Fagbemi’s question as to whether he was an APC member, said that he was a member of the Obidient Movement of the Labour Party.


Having discharged the witness, Uche told the court that that was the end of the case of the petitioners.


“My lords, pursuant to paragraph 46 (5) of the Electoral Act, 2022, we most humbly apply to close the case of the petitioners.”


The respondents appealed to the court to allow them open their cases after the Eid-el-Kabir holiday.


The five-member panel led by Justice Haruna Tsammani accepted the request and adjourned the case until July 3.


The petitioners in their joint petition marked: CA/PEPC/05/2023 are praying the court to among other things, withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to the President Bola Tinubu by INEC.


The petitioners maintained that the declaration of Tinubu as winner of the presidential election was invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.


They also contended that Tinubu’s election was invalid by reason of corrupt practices, insisting that he was not duly elected by a majority of lawful votes cast during the election.


Atiku asked the PEPC to declare him winner of the presidential election on the grounds that he secured the second highest number of lawful votes cast during the election.


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