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Presidential election: Tribunal forced to adjourn over INEC’s failure to supply materials

The Presidential Election Petitions Court was on Tuesday forced to shift hearing in the petition of Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic (PDP) over lack…

The Presidential Election Petitions Court was on Tuesday forced to shift hearing in the petition of Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic (PDP) over lack of documents from 11 local government areas of Kogi State.

The five-member panel of justices presided by Justice Haruna Tsammani shifted hearing in the petition to enable the PDP obtain the documents expected from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Earlier, counsel to the PDP, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) had sought to tender forms EC8A from 10 out of 21 local government areas of Kogi State to establish the petition against President Bola Tinubu.

The exhibits mainly documents used for the February 25 presidential election are those from Ankpa, Dekina, Idah, Ofu, Olamaboro, Yagba East, Yagba West, Kabba-Bunu, Igalamela Odolu and Kogi.

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Although, the schedule of documents to the effect was filed along with the exhibits, the court however noted that tendering such sensitive exhibits at piece meals would not be of any help especially in marking and numbering them.

Jegede, however, blamed the INEC for deliberate refusal to supply his client with the vital documents.

He said Atiku and the PDP had paid N6 million for the supply of certified true copies of the exhibits but INEC failed to provide them.

Jegede explained that to save the situation, the legal team had to subpoena top INEC officials to bring the required documents before the court.

He later requested for a 24-hour adjournment to enable him approach the electoral body to do the needful.

Following no objections from counsel to respondents, INEC represented by Abubakar Mahmud; Tinubu, Chief Wole Olanipekun; and the APC, Lateef Fagbemi, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria, the panel shifted the matter.

Earlier, the panel admitted the document of discontinuance of the suit at the Supreme Court filed by six states of the PDP challenging the declaration of Bola Tinubu as president.

PDP counsel, Jegede informed the court that the discontinuance notice in SC/CV/354/2023 between AG of Adamawa State and 6 others versus Attorney General of the Federation was contained in the 3 schedule of documents to be tendered.

It is intended to support their counter affidavit against the APC’s claim that they are still maintaining a similar suit at the Supreme Court.

The Attorneys General of Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Sokoto states had on February 28 filed the suit before the Supreme Court challenging INEC’s declaration of Tinubu as winner of the February 25 presidential election without compliance to the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 and INEC guidelines.

They had contended that the provision for the upload of results from the BVAS to the IREV was not complied with before the INEC pronouncement.

However, in a preliminary objection at the tribunal, Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress (APC) argued that Atiku and PDP’s petition was an abuse of court process having filed a similar suit at the apex court.

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