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Election Petition: Atiku, PDP Witnesses Allege Manipulation Of Results In Niger, Borno, Ebonyi

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The Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar on Friday told the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC), how the results of the February 25 presidential election were manipulated in favour of President Bola Tinubu and his All Progressives Congress (APC) in three states of Niger, Borno and Ebonyi respectively.

Atiku and his political party told the court through three of their witnesses who testified before the court.
The three witness could not however proved the allegations under cross-examinations as the failed to state in their respective statement on oath, the polling units or wards where the alleged irregularities occurred.

Firing the first salvo was the fourth Petitioner’s witness (PW4), Sani Idris Kutigi, a former House of Representatives member from Niger State, who alleged that election results of the February 25 presidential election were manipulated in Niger State.”

The former lawmaker who was led in evidence by Chief Chris Uche (SAN), said as a state Collation officer for the PDP, but did not signed exhibit PC26 (INEC Form EC8D), which is the summary of collated result for the state), because it was manipulated.Under cross examination, led counsel to INEC, Oluwakemi Pinheiro asked him if he was familiar with the process of election.

He said he was familiar with the process of the election, adding “I voted in the presidential election.”

Counsel to Tinubu and Shettima, Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN, equally confronted the witness under cross-examination when he asked the witness to confirm that the PDP polling units agents performed their job very well at the respective polling units in the state.

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Responding to the question, Kutigi said, “Absolutely,” the witness replied.
Olujimi pressed him further on his witness statement on oath where he alleged the actual results were not transmitted, asking “but did you state the actual results?”

He said he did not.

When queried by Lateef Fagbemi SAN, lead counsel to APC, the witness affirmed he did not state any figure different from the results announced by INEC for Niger State, in his statement on oath.

In his evidence, the fourth Petitioner Witness witness (PW4), Nicholas Sheriza, the PDP State Collation Agent for Borno state, claimed that some agents of the party were “chased away’ and prevented from discharging their duties.

Pinheiro asked him to confirm to the court whether the agents of PDP did well during the election.

Sheriza said they performed well only where they were allowed to do so.

“The real election was held at the polling units but the real disaster happened at the collation centre where rigging took place,” the witness said.

Tinubu’s counsel, Olujimi, asked him if he stated the polling units where results were marred in his statement on oath.

But Sheriza said he did not, adding that “The disaster happened at the Ward Collation where the results were changed. When you compare the results from ward level and polling units, they are at variance “

But Olujimi asked him if he stated the supposed disaster in his statement on oath and he replied he never did because he could not input all the developments at the entire polling units in his statement.

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When APC counsel, Fagbemi cross-examined him on whether the PDP had agents at the LGA collation centre, the witness said they did.

The sixth witness came up, whose name and description was identified as Silas Joseph Onu Esq, State Collation Agent for Ebonyi state.

INEC’s lawyer asked him to confirm if his duty was just limited to collation at the centre.

“There was nothing like that, we were given permission to move across the state, not just collation centre,” Onu replied, adding he received information from agents in polling units, wards and LGAs.

“Were your agents given results at polling units?” the INEC lawyer further asked, to which Onu replied “Some of the agents collected the results but others were chased away”.

Olujimi asked him to confirm his knowledge of polling units in Ebonyi.
The witness confirmed there were 2,964 polling units in 13 LGAs and 171 wards.

“You said Infractions occurred in all the polling units in the state but were you there?”

Olujimi further asked, to which the witness responded that he visited several places.

APC’s counsel, Fagbemi asked him if he stated the polling units he visited or where results were marred.

“It is clearly not there,” the witness said, adding he received reports directly from agents from all the polling units.

So far, the PDP has tendered as evidence, the 2023 Presidential Election Results, INEC Forms EC8A (which is the summary of presidential election results) and Form EC8E series for the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, INEC certified documents in respect of number of PVCs collected for 2023 presidential election and the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System BVAS machine-printed report for the 36 states, including FCT.

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Other documents tendered are additional Forms EC8A as downloaded by INEC (for 17 local government of Abia state and INEC authentication certificate), Forms EC8As for Bayelsa, Kaduna, Ogun states, certified true copies of Forms EC8Es from Kaduna and Kogi state.

These documents have been objected to by the Independent National Electoral Commission, Tinubu, Vice President Kashim Shettima and the All Progressives Congress.

Inpsite of the objections, the documents were all admitted as exhibits by the court in line with the PEPC directive that no Certified INEC materials shall be objected to at the point of tendering from the bar.
 


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