Palpable tension gripped the camps of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress APC on Monday when the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, Atiku Abubakar sought to tender 48 video CDs to show state by state how the February 23, 2019 presidential election was allegedly rigged against him.
Atiku and PDP also applied to the presidential election petition tribunal to play the video recording in the courtroom as part of efforts to substantiate their allegations of massive rigging against the election of President Buhari.
Immediately Atiku’s counsel, Chris Uche SAN, announced his plan to tender the video discs and play some of them through one of its witnesses Segun Showunmi, counsel to INEC, Yunus Usman SAN, countered the decision and vehemently objected to the request.
Usman said that INEC is not in support and will not support any bid by Atiku and PDP to play the video recording for the tribunal to see and to admit same.
He insisted that the video CDs were not front loaded by the petitioners and that INEC which conducted the election has been ambushed, adding that only documents front loaded will be allowed to be admitted.
Buhari and APC through their respective counsels associated themselves with INEC that the video recording must not be played or admitted so as not to allow the petitioners to amend their petition.
They cited several legal authorities to justify their position on why the video recording should not be played and admitted.
However, Atiku’s lawyer, who had earlier led three other witnesses in their evidence in chief, drew the attention of the tribunal to the pre-hearing report where they all consented that objections to documents admission can only be made at the final address stage.
Uche cited Supreme Court decisions for consideration of the tribunal to the effect that both front loaded and listed documents including video CDs can be admitted and played in the courtroom.
Atiku’s lawyer specifically drew the attention of the tribunal to page 143 of the petition where several items including video and audio recording relating to the February 23 poll were pleaded by the two petitioners to establish their allegations against Buhari’s election.
Although the tribunal chairman, Justice Mohammed Garba drew the attention of INEC, Buhari and APC to their joint agreement with the petitioners to oppose admission of documents at the final address stage, the three respondents however stood their grounds in their vehement objection to the video show.
Earlier, three witnesses, Babagana Kukawa, Hon. Abana Pogu and Suleiman Mohammed Bulama from Borno and Yobe states had testified that Buhari and APC on the election day used soldiers to attack and injure PDP agents.
The witnesses also alleged that Village and District Heads were also used to intimidate and threaten eligible voters to vote for Buhari or risk being ejected from their farmlands.
Meanwhile, the Tribunal will later today rule on whether to admit and play the video recording in the courtroom or not.