PEPT: INEC Explains Why It Kicked Against Tendering Own Documents
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has shed light on why it kicked against the tendering of its own documents as exhibits by the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP,) Mr Peter Gregory Obi to establish his petition against the election of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The electoral body had on Thursday vehemently objected to admission of several documents brought to the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) by Obi and Labour Party for the purpose of tendering them as exhibits to justify their petition.
However at Friday’s proceedings, INEC lawyer, Kemi Pinhero SAN told the Court that the electoral body kicked against the tendering of certified true copies of the documents, mainly election result sheets, because Obi and the Labour Party did not challenge conduct of election in the areas relating to the documents.
Pinhero explained that issues were not joined in the Local Government Areas 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 government areas unlawfully smuggled into proceedings of the Court are totally strange to the petition and cannot stand in the face of the law.
INEC’S explanation offered while lawyers were ordered to make appearance however drew the ire of the Presiding Justice of the Court, Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani.
Justice Tsammani held that it was wrong of INEC’S lawyer to have smuggled the explanation into the proceedings because all parties in the petition have agreed to offer such explanations at the address stage of proceedings.
Pinhero in return apologized 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 owners had turned his client into an object of ridicule without finding out reasons for objections against the admissibility of the documents.
Meanwhile, the Court has admitted as exhibits forms EC8A from 21 Local Government Areas of Adamawa and 8 Local Government Areas of Bayelsa States and parts of Rivers and Niger State as tendered by Obi and the Labour Party.
Peter Afoba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN is conducting proceedings for Obi and LP.
Earlier, hearing in the petition of the Allied People’s Movement (APM) was further shifted to June 9 by the Court to enable lawyers to obtain the May 26 judgment of the Supreme Court that would determine whether the petition still has life to sustain it or not.
The Presidential Election Petition Court PEPC on Friday admitted exhibits from the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi in additional six States in his quest to establish riggings and other electoral malpractices that led to his loss in the February 25 presidential election.
Obi and the Labour Party had on Thursday tendered exhibits in six States comprising Rivers, Benue, Cross River, Niger, Osun and Ekiti States.
However, at Friday’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 the National Electoral Commission INEC as true copies of the original were admitted as exhibits.
Breakdown of the fresh exhibits showed that forms EC8A were admitted in 21 Local Government Areas of Adamawa, 8 in Local Government Areas of Bayelsa, 31 Local Government Areas of Oyo, 18 Local Government Areas of Edo, 20 Local Government Areas of Lagos and 31 Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom.
The winner of the election, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress APC as well as the Independent National Electoral Commission
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 Friday’s proceedings, Peter Obi through his counsel, Mr Peter Afoba SANinformed 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 the request was opposed by all respondents in the matter.
Meanwhile, further hearing in the petition has been shifted to Monday June 5 by the Presiding Justice of the Court, Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani.