LP, INEC Lawyers Clash Over Election Materials.


The Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi, on Monday, again accused the Independent National Electoral Commission of frustrating its petition challenging the result of the February 25 presidential election.

Their lawyer, Jubrin Okutepa (SAN),  complained to the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja, that: “All the documents we have asked for, INEC has refused to give us.

“We are bringing this to your notice for your intervention because we have done everything humanly possible.

“These documents were certified since May 29. We have severally written letters detailing the documents we needed in the proof of our petition.”

Okutepa claimed that despite that his clients had since paid the necessary fees demanded by INEC for the documents, the electoral umpire had refused to make them available.

But INEC’s lawyer, A.B. Mahmoud (SAN), insisted that: “We never denied the petitioners of any document.”

“All the documents that the subpoenaed witnesses are tendering are from INEC,” Mahmoud said.

Meanwhile, earlier in the proceedings, the LP and Obi fielded their seventh witness

The subpoenaed witness, Loretta Ogah,  who was led in evidence by another member of the petitioners’ team, Patrick Ikweato (SAN), introduced herself to the court as a cloud engineer and architect with Amazon Web Services Incorporated.

The court admitted Ogah’s employment letter and resume as exhibits.

The respondents in the petition all informed the court that they were just being served the witness deposition and would need to study the document in preparation for cross-examination.

Consequently, the five-man panel, led by Justice Tsammani, adjourned to Tuesday for the cross-examination of the witness and further hearing of the petition.

Meanwhile, the court has fixed June 21 for the Allied Peoples Movement to open its case challenging the outcome of the February 25 presidential poll, in which Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress was declared winner.

The APM’s petition case had suffered a lull due to a recent Supreme Court judgment, which Tinubu’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), said he believed had already addressed the issues raised by the APM in its petition.

Olanipekun had referenced the Supreme Court’s decision of Friday, May 26, that dismissed the suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party which prayed the court to nullify the ticket that produced Tinubu and Vice President Kassim Shettima, on the grounds of double nomination.

At the resumed hearing on the petition on Monday,  APM’s lawyer, G.A. Ijiagbonya, informed the court of his intention to go ahead with the case despite Olanikpekun’s reminder of the apex court’s judgment.

Ijiagbonya said upon perusal of the Supreme Court judgment that Olanipekun spoke of, he and his legal team believed it had not vitiated their case before the election tribunal.

He, however, sought a one-week adjournment to obtain a vital document from INEC to prosecute the case.

The Chairman of the five-man panel, Justice Haruna Tsammani, who held that the party could not be shut out for sake of  fair hearing, adjourned the APC matter till Wednesday.

Also, the PDP continued its case against Tinubu and the APC on Monday, by calling three presiding officers of INEC  to testify in aid of their petition.

The INEC officials told the court that they could not use the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System to upload the results of the 2023 presidential election.

The officers, however, said they did not encounter any such technical glitch while uploading the results of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Further hearing in the matter was adjourned till Tuesday (today).