From Esther Akaa, Lafia
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Nasarawa State has presented two more witnesses at the ongoing Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, alleging that the March 18, 2023 governorship election results in Toto and Lafia Local Government Areas were manipulated in favour of the incumbent Governor, Abdullahi Sule.
The governorship candidate of the PDP, Dr. David Ombugadu, had dragged Governor Sule to court after the Independent National Electoral Commission declared him winner of the election.
At the continuation of hearing in Lafia on Wednesday, one of the petitioner’s witnesses marked as PW-18 from Ihamkpe Electoral Ward in Toto LGA tendered his Permanent Voter Card (PVC), agent card and PDP membership card to the tribunal.
The witness statement on oath testified to the issues of over voting in Ihamkpe Polling Unit code 010, saying that Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machine accredited 176 but 476 was written in Form EC8A.
Also, the second witness marked as PW-19 from Ashige Electoral Ward Lafia LGA, tendered his agent card during the court proceedings.
The witness claimed that the governorship election in 35 out of 36 Polling Units of Ashige Electoral Ward was conducted peacefully and Form EC8A’s adequately transmitted to the INEC IRev Portal in a real time.
According to the PDP party agent, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the All Progressives Congress (APC ) collaborated and illegally cancelled the entire Ashige Electoral Ward results at the Ward Collation Centre and allegedly raised Form EC40G to that regard in order to cover the electoral frauds during the March 18 election to favour Gov. Sule
The witnesses were however cross examined by Counsels to Governor Abdullahi Sule, APC and INEC; M. A Dikko (SAN), Hassan Liman (SAN) and Ishaku Dikko (SAN) respectively.
The counsels objected on the ground that they were not served with the schedule of the witnesses by the petitioners as stated in the Electoral Act.
The lead Counsel to the petitioners, Jibrin Samuel Okutepa (SAN), had said the pre-hearing report did not make any such provision as to schedule of witnesses.
The Tribunal therefore overruled the respondents based on the need to make progress and not to base arguments on technicalities.
Due to failure of INEC to produce some required documents to the Petitioners to further prove their case, Okutepa, SAN therefore applied for the adjournment of the sitting to a further date.
After listening to the testimonies of the witnesses and cross examinations of all the Counsels, the Chairman of the three-man Governorship Election Petition Panel, Justice Ezekiel Ajayi, adjourned the matter to the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th of August 2023, for continuation of hearing.
The Voice reports that other Counsels present at the day’s proceedings were Adebayo Adelodun and Mathew Bukar (SAN).