2023 Election: Tribunal adjourns session, witness testimony

2023 Election: Tribunal adjourns session, witness testimony

The presidential election petitions tribunal has adjourned its sessions after the completion of the defence by President Bola Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in response to Peter Obi and the Labour Party’s petition.

Representing Mr Tinubu and Mr Shettima, Wole Olanipekun, SAN, announced the conclusion of their case following the testimony of their only witness.

Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, a longstanding associate of Mr Tinubu, served as the sole witness for the president.

He underwent cross-examination by the Labour Party’s counsel on Wednesday.

During his testimony, Mr Bamidele stated in his witness statement that “Mr Tinubu’s votes were inaccurately counted in Kano State, with a shortfall of 10,929 votes during the transfer from INEC form EC8D to forms EC8D(A), which are used to collate election results at various levels.”

The witness also relied on an international observers’ report on the February 25 presidential election, signed by Earnest Koroma, a former president of Sierra Leone.

He also testified that he was aware that “Mr Tinubu had forfeited $460,000 in a case related to drug dealing and money laundering.”

Lateef Fagbemi, a senior lawyer representing the ruling APC, informed the court that they had no further witnesses.

However, he utilized Mr Bamidele’s testimony to support the argument that the tribunal should uphold the election.

Lawrence Bayode, a technical director at INEC, testified on Tuesday that there was a failure in the electronic transmission of results on election day due to a glitch in the cloud server relied upon by INEC. He dismissed claims of result tampering by opposition parties and stated that the failure was insufficient to warrant overturning the election.

Following the proceedings, the Court of Appeal panel in Abuja, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, granted a period of 10 days for the legal teams of Mr Tinubu, the APC, and INEC, and seven days for Mr Obi and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) represented by Atiku Abubakar, to file their written addresses.

Both parties will then have five days to submit their respective responses.

The court also announced that a later date would be determined for the parties to present their final arguments, as the tribunal has a maximum of 180 days to conclude the entire case in accordance with electoral law.

The reason behind the decision of Mr Tinubu, the APC, and INEC to call only one witness each remained unclear to those present in the court on Wednesday.

Both the PDP and the Labour Party have filed extensive petitions, presenting severe allegations of electoral irregularities, fraud, and disqualifying criminal charges against Mr Tinubu, who was declared the winner of the February election and inaugurated on May 29.

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