ABUJA, Nigeria – President Bola Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress, APC, on Thursday, June 8, 2023, have vigorously objected to the attempt by former Vice President Abubakar Atiku to involve ad-hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as witnesses in his petition disputing Tinubu’s declaration as the winner of the 2023 presidential election.
Atiku, in an attempt to prove alleged irregularities during the election, had subpoenaed three INEC ad-hoc workers to give first-hand accounts of their experiences during the presidential election on February 25, 2023.
Specifically, he requested them to clarify how the presidential election results were transmitted.
However, Tinubu, represented by Wole Olanipekun, SAN, opposed the presentation of the witnesses’ sworn statements at the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, in support of Atiku’s petition.
Tinubu and the APC argued that the ad-hoc workers’ statements were not presented at the time the petition was filed.
Olanipekun, citing several legal provisions against the use of the witnesses, argued that since they were subpoenaed by Atiku as the petitioner, he should have submitted their sworn statements along with the petition.
He urged the Court to reject the witnesses and their statements for violating the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.
Tinubu’s arguments were supported by Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, representing the APC, and Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, representing INEC.
On the other hand, Atiku’s lead counsel, Chris Uche SAN, asked the Court to dismiss the objections as they were completely misplaced and misconceived.
Uche argued that the objections were a deliberate strategy to delay proceedings.
He insisted that the statements of the subpoenaed witnesses could not have been submitted with the petition as they were not summoned at the time the petition was filed.
He called on the Court to dismiss the objections of the three respondents.
Although the Court adjourned for ruling, the Presiding Justice of the Court, Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani, announced on resumption that the ruling had been reserved.
However, Justice Tsammani ordered the three subpoenaed witnesses’ evidence to be taken and allowed the respondents to cross-examine them.