The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has explained to the Presidential Election Petition Court why it kicked against the tendering of its own documents as exhibits by the Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, to establish his petition against the election of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The electoral body had on Thursday objected to admission of several documents brought to the Tribunal by Obi and Labour Party for the purpose of tendering them as exhibits to justify their petition. However at yesterday’s hearing, INEC counsel, Kemi Pinhero (SAN) submitted that the electoral body kicked against the tendering of certified true copies of the documents, mainly election result sheets, because Obi and LP did not challenge the conduct of the election in the areas relating to the documents.
Pinhero explained that issues were not joined in the local government areas where the result sheets were sought to be tendered, adding that it was wrong of the petitioners to go beyond the areas where the election is disputed. He accused Obi of trying to confuse issues by bringing result sheets where he did not dispute the election and the returns, adding that the presidential candidate ought to have guided himself with the pleadings in his petition.
According to INEC, the local government areas unlawfully smuggled into proceedings of the court are totally strange to the petition and cannot stand in the face of the law. However, INEC’s lawyer drew the angers of the Presiding Justice of the Court, Justice Haruna Si- mon Tsammani. Tsammani held that it was wrong of INEC’S lawyer to have smuggled the explanation into the proceedings because all parties in the petition have agreed to offer such explanations at the address stage of proceedings.
Pinhero in return apologised to the court but said that he was forced to speak up on the objections because of the deluge of criticisms suffered in the media by his client. Meanwhile, the court has admitted as exhibits forms EC8A from 21 local government areas of Adamawa State and eight LGAs of Bayelsa States and parts of Rivers and Niger states as tendered by Obi and his party.
Earlier, hearing in the petition of the Allied People’s Movement (APM) was further shifted to June 9 by the court to enable lawyers obtain the May 26 judgment of the Supreme Court that would determine whether the petition still has life to sustain it or not. In a related development, the tribunal admitted exhibits from Obi in additional six states in his quest to establish riggings and other electoral malpractices that led to his loss in the February 25 Presidential election.
Obi and the Labour Party had on Thursday tendered exibits in six States, comprising Rivers, Benue, Cross River, Niger, Osun and Ekiti states. However, at yesterday’s proceeding, the presidential candidate and his party tendered exhibits in six other states; Adamawa Bayelsa, Oyo, Edo, Lagos and Akwa Ibom. The exhibits comprising forms EC8A used in the February 25 Presidential election and certified by INEC as true copies of the original were admitted as exhibits.
Breakdown of the fresh exhibits showed that forms EC8A were admitted in 21 LGAs of Adamawa, eight LGAs of Bayelsa, 31 LGAs of Oyo, 18 LGAs of Edo, 20 LGAs of Lagos and 31 LGAs of Akwa Ibom. Tinubu, the APC INEC told the court of their intentions to object to the documents at the final stage of address.