Tribunal Orders INEC Chairman, Zamfara REC to Appear Tomorrow Following Failure To Comply With Earlier Subpoena

*Atiku alleges INEC sabotage of his petition

By Editor

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu was on Wednesday ordered by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to appear before it unfailingly tomorrow, July 18, by 12 noon.

Yakubu is to appear along with the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Zamfara State, both of who were subpoenaed by the Tribunal for presentation of some documents but refused to honour the summon.

Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Mohammed Garba, issued the order following complains by the PDP Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar that his petition against the election of Muhammadu Buhari was being sabotaged by the INEC Chairman following his refusal to appear before the Tribunal to tender some unnamed documents.

Atiku through his counsel, Chief Chris Uche, SAN had complained bitterly to the Tribunal that Mahmood Yakubu and INEC Commissioner in Zamfara have been frustrating him in the 10 day hearing notice given to him by the Tribunal to substantiate his allegations and claims in his petition jointly filed with the PDP.

The petitioners had filed two applications on July 9 seeking an order of court to compel INEC Chairman to physically appear before the tribunal and present certain documents listed by the petitioners and the Zamfara REC to produce the election results for Zamfara State in the presidential poll.

While that of the chairman was served on him on July 15 that of the Zamfara REC was served on him on July 12.

Counsel to the petitioners, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, had on resumption of proceedings on Wednesday lamented that the commission was yet to respond to the tribunal’s subpoena served on the chairman and the Zamfara REC.

Responding, counsel to INEC, Yunus Usman, SAN, told the tribunal that he was not aware of the subpoena on Yakubu but that of the Zamfara REC has been complied with, adding that they are waiting for the petitioners to pay the normal fee and collect the said documents.

But in a short ruling, Presiding Justice of the five man panel held that orders of Court are sacrosanct and must be obeyed. 

“Since the record of the Court shows that the chairman of the 1st Respondents INEC and Zamfara REC were duly served to produce documents named therein, the chairman and Zamfara REC as the legal team representing them in this matter are to comply with the order”, the tribunal held.

According to the chairman, the record of the Court showed that Yakubu was served on July 15 and the Zamfara REC on July 12, but were yet to respond to the subpoena. 

“They have not done so and there is no document to show.

“We note that the INEC chairman and REC were asked to produce documents on the day they were served, that is impossible.

“They have been directed to produce documents in the subpoena by 12 noon tomorrow”, he said.

However after the ruling, Atiku and PDP then called in five witnesses who testified that several booklets of ballot papers were thumb printed in Borno State and counted as lawful votes for Muhammadu Buhari and the APC.

The witnesses said that at the end of the thumb printing allegedly done by the APC agents and aided by security agents, zero votes was allocated to the two petitioners at Chibok Local Government Area.

The witnesses who came from Borno and Nasarawa States also testified that elections in Nasarawa, especially in Karu Local Government Area were PDP polled 22,580 and APC 9,407, the results were cancelled on the grounds that the petitioners led in the poll.

They further told the tribunal that result sheets were exchanged and in some cases allegedly rewritten to favour Buhari and APC.

Under cross examination by Buhari’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, the witnesses informed the tribunal that they did not come to Abuja with their own copies of the results having submitted them to their party in the state which in turn submitted them to the petitioner’s lawyers.

The five witnesses who testified before the Court proceeded on break are Iorshe David, Dangana Shau Barde, Aliu Abdullahi, Sanni Abdul and Dr Allen Manasseh.

More details later.