• As Obi seeks order to interrogate commission on ICT personnel A staff of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Egwumah Omachonu Friday, yesterday, testified before the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) that he was unable to transmit presidential election results to the server of the commission, despite being able to transmit those of the Senate and House of Representatives. Friday, a subpoenaed witness who was an ad hoc staff of INEC during the February 25 election, said the poll was peaceful but presidential results couldn’t be transmitted alongside others. The witness, a presiding officer of INEC, was led in evidence by lead counsel to the petitioners – Atiku and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – Chris Uche. Friday said he served at 017 polling unit in Abia State. Another subpoenaed witness, Grace Timothy, a presiding officer at one of the polling units in Bauchi State, told the PEPC that the election was peaceful and went well. Earlier, President Bola Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress (APC) vehemently kicked against bid by presidential candidate of the PDP, Abubakar Atiku, to engage INEC ad hoc staff to give evidence in his petition. Tinubu, represented by Chief Wole Olanipekun, objected to the use of statements made on oath by witnesses in aid of Atiku’s petition. The grouse of the President and the APC was that the statements of the ad hoc workers were not frontloaded at the time of filing the petition. Olanipekun, who cited several provisions of the law against use of the witnesses, argued that since Atiku, as the petitioner, subpoenaed them, he ought to have frontloaded their statements on oath, along with the petition. He asked the court to reject the witnesses and discountenance their statements on the ground of violating provisions of the Electoral Act 2022. Tinubu’s arguments against the witnesses were adopted by Prince Lateef Fagbemi, who stood for the APC, and Abubakar Mahmoud, who appeared for INEC. However, Uche asked the court to dismiss the objections, on the ground that they were misplaced and misconceived. Uche noted that the objections by Tinubu, APC and INEC were deliberate ploys to delay proceedings. The senior lawyer insisted the statements of the subpoenaed witnesses could not have been frontloaded along with the petition because they had not been summoned at the time of filing the petition. He asked the court to discountenance objections of the three respondents and hold that they are not regular additional witnesses envisaged in the law cited by Olanipekun. The PEPC adjourned hearing to today. Also presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, sought an order of the court to interrogate INEC on information and communication technology personnel used for the election. Patrick Ikweto argued this on his behalf in two separate motions. However, INEC, represented by Kemi Pinhero, objected to Obi’s bid to subject his client to interrogation through incompetent applications. The senior lawyer argued that Obi’s application had become belated because he brought it outside time allowed by law.
June 22, 2023
June 22, 2023