THE refusal of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide election documents from Kogi State has forced the Presidential Election Petitions Court (PEPC) to adjourn hearing of the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
During the resumed hearing of the petition on Tuesday, June 6, the counsel for the PDP, Eyitayo Jegede, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), had sought to present forms EC8A from 10 out of 21 LGAs in Kogi State as evidence for the petition against President Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The exhibits comprising documents used during the presidential election held on February 25 included materials from Ankpa, Dekina, Idah, Ofu, Olamaboro, Yagba East, Yagba West, Kabba-Bunu, Igalamela Odolu, and Kogi LGAs of the state.
While the schedule of documents had been submitted alongside the exhibits, the tribunal observed that some of the LGAs were missing.
The tribunal, led by Haruna Tsammani, noted that introducing the sensitive exhibits in fragments would not facilitate their proper marking and numbering.
However, Jegede attributed the absence of the documents to INEC’s deliberate failure to provide them, despite the payment of N6 million by Atiku and the PDP for their certified true copies.
Jegede informed the court that Atiku’s legal team would subpoena top INEC officials to produce the required documents at the next sitting.
The court, as a result, adjourned the matter till Wednesday, June 7, after no objection was raised by counsels to all the respondents.
Earlier in the day, the panel admitted a document of discontinuance filed by six PDP states at the Supreme Court. The states – Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, and Sokoto – had challenged the declaration of Tinubu as President, but chose to discontinue their suit.
Jegede informed the court that the discontinuance notice, contained in the schedule of documents to be tendered, was intended to support their counter affidavit against the APC’s claim that a similar suit was still pending at the Supreme Court.
The Attorneys General of the six states had jointly filed the suit before the Supreme Court on February 28.
They argued that INEC had declared Tinubu as the winner of the February 25 presidential election without adhering to the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022 and INEC guidelines. Their contention centered on the failure to upload results from the BVAS to the IREV before INEC’s pronouncement.
However, Tinubu and the APC raised a preliminary objection at the tribunal, asserting that Atiku and the PDP’s petition constituted an abuse of the court process, as they had already filed a similar suit before the apex court.