Abuja’s presidential petitions court on Friday accepted two video clips as evidence in Peter Obi’s lawsuit challenging President Bola Tinub’s victory.
The video clip is believed to be of a press conference between INEC Chairman Mahmoud Yakub and another senior official, Festus Oroe, who promised to transmit the results of the general election electronically in real time. .
Obi, the Labor Party presidential candidate in February’s general election, has accused the Nigerian Electoral Commission (INEC) of manipulating polls to favor Tinub.
Mr. Tinub contested the platform of the Nigerian presidential election. All Progressive Party Congress (APC). He defeated Mr. Obi, who came third in the race.
Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party, who came in second in the polls, is also trying to reverse Tinub’s victory.
When the case was brought up on Friday, Obi’s lawyer and Nigerian Senior Advocate (SAN) Jibril Oktepa said before a panel of five members of the court presided over by Haruna Tsamani. , presented a video clip contained on two flash drives.
Octepa previously told the court that he had submitted a subpoena to Channels Television to produce two videos.
He further told the court that two subpoenas, dated May 30 and June 6, were issued by Channels Television, a broadcaster headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria.
Following the subpoena, the station brought one of its editors, Lucky Obewo-Isawode, to court.
After the court admitted the subpoena as evidence, Ovewo-Isawode testified as a witness.
However, Mr. Tinub’s lawyer, Akin Orzinmi, and other respondents’ lawyers opposed the admissibility of the video, as well as Mr. Ovewo Issawode’s testimony in court.
Mr. Olzinmi of SAN argued that the petitioner’s attorneys should have accelerated the witness statement of Mr. Obewo Isawode in oath in court.
Through his lawyers, President Tinub claimed that the witnesses were incapable of testifying on the issue because written statements had not been brought forward at the time the petition was filed.
Mr. Olzinmi referred to Section 4 (5) and (6) of Schedule 1 of the 2022 Election Act, stating that the witness statement was filed 21 days after Mr. Tinub was declared president-elect, along with a substantive petition. argued that it should have been submitted.
Tinub was declared president-elect on March 1, 2023, and Obi filed a lawsuit on the Register of Presidential Petitions Court on March 20.
However, he did not file witness statements for the subpoenaed witnesses separately from the main action.
During Thursday’s proceedings, one of Atiku’s lawyers, SAN’s Chris Uche, argued that the petitioners do not need to frontload witness statements in court.
Mr. Tinub’s lawyer and other defendants in the sister lawsuit, who challenged the poll results, had asked the court not to allow subpoenaed witnesses to testify in court.
However, while the court accepted the testimony of the subpoenaed witnesses, a decision on the case was reserved until later.
“The law states that petitions that do not comply will not be accepted. Your Excellency, this witness statement was served to us only after the proceedings began today,” Oljinmi told the court.
“More than three months have passed since the announcement of the election results.
“This witness was not on the list of petitioners, and his statement was not attached to the petition. As such, he is not a competent witness to testify in this court,” he said. added.
Likewise, Kemi Pinhero of SAN, INEC’s attorney, agreed with Mr. Orzinmi’s submission on this issue.
In response to the dissenting opinion, Mr. Octepa said the subpoena is a court order and must be complied with, and that the petitioner does not have control over the witnesses subpoenaed.
“Gentlemen, my submission is that the witnesses summoned are competent to testify on this matter,” Oktekpa asserted.
The court then admitted the videos as evidence and marked them as Exhibits PBH-3 and PBH-4.
Related article: Peter Obi Seeks Presidential Electoral Court Approval for Interrogation of INEC ICT Officials
However, due to time constraints, the video could not be played in open court on Friday night.
However, the defendants’ attorneys objected to playing the video. They claimed they were not provided with a copy of the video contained on the two flash drives.
In response, panel chairman Tsamani allayed defense attorneys’ concerns.
He said defendants would not be prejudiced if the video was played in court.
The court then postponed the case until Saturday for further hearings.
The Premium Times learned that the flash drive contained a video of a press conference authorized by INEC President Mahmoud Yakub and the commission’s National Commissioner for Voter Education Festus Okoye.
Lawyers in the lawsuit said the video included assurances from Yakub and Okoye that the results of the 2023 general election would be transmitted in real time from polling stations across Nigeria to INEC’s IReV portal.
But during the February 25th presidential election, election officials broke promises to transmit results electronically in real time.
Yakub later attributed the development to a “glitch” during the poll.
The commission’s failure to honor its promises is one of the grounds for Atiku and Obi’s lawsuit, which challenges the credibility of the election.
In their petitions, the petitioners are asking the court to annul the election and order a new vote.
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