From Esther Akaa, Lafia
The Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Nasarawa State on Wednesday received additional testimonies from some party agents alleging irregularities in the March 18, 2023 governorship election in the state.
The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. David Ombugadu, had dragged the incumbent governor, Abdullahi Sule to court after the Independent National Electoral Commission declared him winner of the election.
At the continuation of hearing in Lafia, counsel for the PDP, Samuel Jibril Okutekpa, led the People’s Redemption Party (PRP) Collation Agent for Gayam Ward during the 2023 State Governorship/State House of Assembly elections to present his evidence.
The agent who was summoned to give evidence by a Subpoena issued by the tribunal was designated as PW12, and his subpoena, agent tag, party membership card and voter’s card were all admitted in evidence and marked accordingly as exhibits.
The PRP agent while presenting his evidence, told the tribunal that he signed the form EC8B (Ward Collation Summary) for Gayam Ward for the House of Assembly but did not sign that of the governorship election because the figures in the said Gayam Ward collation summary for the governorship election were entirely different from the actual summation of votes gotten from the real computation from the respective Polling Units in the Ward.
He further identified the results of the 58 polling units of Gayam Ward earlier admitted in evidence which summation showed that the summary of votes transferred into the Gayam Ward Collation Summary Sheet for the state governorship election were incorrect.
According to him, the results were not a true reflection of the actual votes gotten by the candidates at the polling unit level.
He was however, crossed examined by counsels to the All Progressives Congress, the State Governor and INEC.
Similarly, the Chiroma Ward Agent of the Action Alliance (AA) Party presented his evidence during proceedings.
The agent who was also summoned by the tribunal upon the application of the petitioners, tendered the original copies of the Subpoena, his letter of appointment as agent and his tag to the tribunal.
The witness designated as PW13, said the summary of the results of the Polling Units in Chiroma Ward entered in the form EC8B was not a correct reflection of the computation of the votes from the respective Polling Units in the ward.
The petitioners further called two of their Polling Units Agents who also testified in support of the Petitioners’ case. They were designated as PW14 and PW15 respectively.
However, during their separate cross examinations, counsel to the Governor, Wole Olanikpekun (SAN), counsel to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Matthew Burkaa and Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Ishaku Dikko, all questioned the legality of the witnesses as party agents.
They urged the tribunal to reject the witnesses allegations, saying that in order for an agent to be accredited, the political party must send a letter to INEC fourteen days prior to the election along with two passport photographs of the agent.
After listening to the petitioners’ witnesses, the Chairman of the three-man Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, Ezekiel Ajayi, adjourned the matter to Thursday, July 27, 2023 for continuation of hearing.